Matthew Wansley, the outgoing student representative, and Andrew Ramish, his successor, each made one last, albeit unsuccessful, effort Thursday night to convince the School Board to allow high-school students to possess over-the-counter medications with written parental permission.
"The amendment proposed by the student representative [Wansley] states that students should only be in violation of the SR&R [Students Responsibilities and Rights] if they abuse, distribute or share over-the-counter drugs. Possession alone should not be grounds for disciplinary action," Ramish said during the citizens participation portion of the meeting. "This amendment is necessary for several reasons. First of all, I believe that a student who merely possesses over-the-counter drugs, but cannot be accused of abuse, distribution or sharing should not face disciplinary action. The addition of a phrase that gives broad discretionary powers to school administrators as far as possession is concerned is not only unfair to students who will face inconsistent enforcement of the rules; it is entirely unnecessary given the fact that what constitutes abuse can be determined by school administrators."
By a vote of 12-0, the board adopted the revised Students Responsibilities and Rights, which does give principals the authority to decide if a student should be punished for carrying nonprescription medications.
WHILE WANSLEY failed to gain the support of a board member willing to introduce his amendment (the student representative is a nonvoting member and therefore can not make motions), the matter of over-the-counter medications will be referred to the board's Student Health Advisory committee. The committee could suggest revisions including a list of what nonprescription medications may be acceptable. The move did not sit well with Wansley, whose term expires in June.
"This is not the first time this has come before the School Board. It was brought up at a work session last year. I was told then something needed to be done and it would be discussed next year," Wansley said, who again brought the issue before the board during a work session in April. "Make no doubt about it, this issue has been discussed for two years and this amendment was brought in advance of tonight's meeting.
"It would be a pity if this motion was not to die on it's merits, but to die because of some political maneuvering … that's not very democratic."
School Board member Christian Braunlich (Lee) said the matter has been discussed for at least six or seven years, and that he almost proposed Wansley's amendment except for the fact he "can count votes" and knew it would die.
"Mr. Wansley suggested a parliamentary action was to kill something. You can have a parliamentary action to kill something, but you can also have a parliamentary action to keep it alive," Braunlich said. "We will have at least four new members next year."
THE SCHOOL BOARD members are divided over allowing nonprescription drugs for liability reasons and fear of abuse by students.
Those who favor not changing the policy cite the possibility of a student having an allergic reaction, overdosing, or using the nonprescription bottles to hide illegal drugs.
Currently all medications must be dispensed through the health clinic, and students requiring medications for more than three days, including nonprescription medicines, require a doctor's note.
"I don't have a problem with removing the part about requiring a doctor's note after three days," said School Board member Mychele Brickner (At large). "I do have a problem with allowing students to carry over-the-counter medications. It's a liability issue. Kids are allergic and inevitability someone will say, 'I have a headache' and someone else will say, 'Here, I have something.'"