Massena Central reviewing drug use policies

Photo courtesy of Basil MK/Pexels

MASSENA — A Massena Central School District policy on the use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and other substances by students has a couple of entries that a board of education member says need to be better explained.

The current policy bans the consumption, sharing, selling, use or possession of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, illegal drugs, counterfeit and designer drugs, or paraphernalia for the use of these drugs at any school-sponsored function, on school grounds and on school buses at all times.

The unauthorized use or misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, supplements, herbs or other similar substances is also prohibited.

The policy has since been revised by the district’s Policy Committee.

“The policy changes to reflect the prohibition for the use of cannabis and exceptions for medical cannabis,” Policy Committee Chair and Board Vice President Amber Baines told board members.

But Board Member Kevin Perretta said he was puzzled by the inclusion of vitamins and supplements.

“I don’t know, but what would be the definition of an illegal vitamin or substance?” he asked.

He said he was concerned because that could possibly include protein shakes taken by individuals while they’re working out.

“It’s a very broad thing. So, then it comes down to how does the administration view it,” Mr. Perretta said. “So, prior to moving this forward, I want to clear that up.”

Superintendent Patrick Brady said it could be interpreted as misusing a vitamin supplement.

“Obviously there’s been some misuse of it,” Mr. Brady said. “If they’re taking too many of them (it) might be an issue. It’s not something that’s ever really come up.”

He said the policy was written by Erie 1 BOCES, which works with more than 375 school districts across New York state to develop and maintain board-adopted policy and administrative manuals that can be approved as written or with modifications specific to each district.

“So, it’s not just possession. What is the premise for it, because it added in there, right? Because that just makes it that much more broader,” Mr. Perretta said.

He asked if the words “vitamins” and “supplements” could be taken out of the policy.

“We could take a re-look at it,” Mr. Brady said. “We have policy (Policy Committee) coming up next week. I can get an answer for you.”

“We do have another crack at that. So, I guess if with your approval, Kevin, we could just approve it tonight and then we’ll have another go-ahead,” Board President Paul Haggett said.

“All right, let’s go ahead. I’ll be there at the committee meeting,” Mr. Perretta said.

Ms. Baines said they had also received a student gender identity policy from Erie 1 BOCES for review.

“The plan for that is to review with counsel at the next Policy Committee meeting and then come back to the board,” she said.

The committee is also reviewing the Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Policy that board members had discussed during a recent retreat.

“The recommendation is for the board not to adopt this policy just yet and let the committee form like we had talked about, take the work slow, and educate the district and community before the policy is adopted,” Ms. Baines said.

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