Schools' Drug Rules Revised

Over-the-counter Pills Still Can Net Expulsion

May 12, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

Trying to calm a splitting headache with a couple of Tylenol tabletsin the middle of the school day could land Carroll students in big trouble.

While school officials last week said revisions in the school board's drug and alcohol policy are aimed at eliminating the use of illegal substances by Carroll's 21,000 students, use of simple over-the-counter medication without permission from parents and doctors carries with it the possibility of suspension or expulsion.

"We don't really want or need a pound of flesh," said Superintendent R. Edward Shilling after revisions to the policy were proposed tothe school board Wednesday.

"We don't need something that is so heavy-handed it becomes unfair," he said. "But there are some very dangerous things going on even with over-the-counter drugs."

Shillingand Director of Secondary Schools Peter B. McDowell said the proposed revisions -- which would soften some punishments and clarify wording on the use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs -- are aimed at giving parents and students a better idea of what is allowed in school.

The adjustments in the policy come nearly four months after two kindergartners were given two-day suspensions for possession of prescription heart medicine.

"We don't have administrators lurking behind water fountains waiting for someone to take Tylenol," McDowellsaid. "But an increasing number of over-the-counter cases gives us areason for the proposed modifications."

The policy calls for suspension the first time a student is caught using illegal drugs, alcohol or over-the-counter or prescription drugs not authorized by a parent and doctor. Further offenses call for longer suspensions, mandatorydrug counseling or even expulsion.

Over-the-counter drugs includeaspirin, cough syrups, cold medicines, nasal sprays and medicines torelieve menstrual cramps.

In addition to suspension and expulsion, students also face removal from extracurricular activities.

"Strong deterrents are necessary in an effort to give students additionalreasons not to use alcohol or drugs," the policy reads.

"Therefore, it is the policy of the Board of Education to consider any studentineligible for participation in extracurricular activities if the student uses, possesses, manufactures or distributes controlled dangerous substances, controlled paraphernalia, look-alike drugs or alcohol,at any time, on or off school premises."

Some of the modifications in the policy, which has been in effect since 1989, include lighterpunishments for students under the age of 7, as well as a provision that would allow students barred from extracurricular activities to resume practicing for the final 20 days of a season.

The school board had expressed some reservation about the policy, especially the requirement compelling students to have a doctor's permission on file to take prescription and over-the-

counter drugs during the schoolday.

"Does this mean a parent cannot give a child permission to take an aspirin?" asked school board member Cheryl A. McFalls.

"We're serious about this," Shilling said. "Some people may think, 'This is just an aspirin.' But it is a lot more than that in the bigger picture."

The Board of Education will consider the policy changes during its June 12 meeting.

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