TEMECULA (CBSLA.com) — A kid graduating high school is normally not news.
But Jesse Snodgrass getting his diploma not only defies the odds, it’s something his parents waited years to see happen.
Catherine and Doug Snodgrass were beyond words when Jesse was handed his diploma.
Jesse, who has autism, is one of several special needs students who were arrested in 2013 as part of an undercover police sting at Chaparral High School. The students were allegedly tricked into buying or distributing drugs and then busted by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Jesse’s story so outraged parents, that it garnered media coverage far and wide and culminated in a Rolling Stone article (“The Entrapment Of Jesse Snodgrass) in February 2014.
“It was an incredible feeling. We’ve been waiting 19 years but the last year and a half has been pretty intense,” said Doug Snodgrass, Jesse’s father, about graduation day.
Jesse’s parents fought to keep him in Chapparal High School in Temecula after the district called for his expulsion. It’s why the graduation was something of a family affair.
The Snodgrass’ spoke on Thursday with KCAL9’s Crystal Cruz.
“We were very worried this might never happen for our family, for Jesse,” Doug said.
His parents said Jesse, along with the other special needs students, were virtually tricked into buying drugs for undercover officers posing as students.
“It was heartbreaking and it was unconscionable but to see him come back and accomplish this is makes me really proud as a father,” said Doug.
The drug charge against Snodgrass was eventually thrown out and a judge ordered him back to school — not before a scathing indictment of the undercover operation by the judge.
“Instead of deception and trying to trick kids into doing bad things, if you actually support them, educate them and nurture them you get results like what happened with Jesse tonight,” said his father.
Cruz reports Doug and Catherine have filed a lawsuit against the Temecula Valley School District for expelling their son.