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Falmouth School Board ponders new alcohol, drug policies

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Falmouth School Board ponders new alcohol, drug policies

FALMOUTH — The School Board heard its first reading of two of the new drug and alcohol policies for the district at its Feb. 26 meeting.

The sweeping revision of the district's drug and alcohol code began in June as a part of a six-year review process. The revision is made up of five parts that work together to govern regulations on drug and alcohol use by students.

“This is a set of five policies that are going to come together to create a sort of net around this issue for us,” said Chris Murry Jr., chair of the board's policy committee, at the meeting.

He added that he, Superintendent Barbara Powers and Falmouth High School Principal Gregg Palmer are working on a “decision-making algorithm” that shows how all of the polices fit together for an upcoming meeting.

Murry presented policies JICH and JICH-R, which govern students while they are in school. Powers made it clear that these two policies have nothing to do with extra- or co-curricular activities, but are focused on kids in school and “how we want to keep them safe and assist them in making good choices.”

Discussion focused around whether or not the new polices should lump the middle school and high school together. Murry said that the policy committee decided to split them up because "you shouldn't hold a high school senior accountable for something they did in sixth grade.

“I think we have to, at some point, give students an opportunity for growth and change,” he said. “This is the one opportunity in their life where they get to correct actions. Once they turn 18, everything they do sticks with them until they die. We are an educational institution and we need to help get kids on track.”

There is still some question about when the policies will take effect. Murry said the board needs to craft specific language around the timing. Without that language, the policy will take effect as soon as the board votes to accept it.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Michael Doyle said that attempting to govern student activity off school grounds is over-reaching, and that if students are going to be held responsible for their actions off campus, teachers and administrators must be as well.

"If you have a teacher who brings marijuana to school and is suspended with pay then you shoudl suspend students with the same rights," he said. "If you are not going to treat the adults that work for the school system the same way you treat the students, you are infringing on Constitutional rights."

A first reading of the other three drug- and alcohol-related policies will take place later this month.

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.