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Legal Drug Dilemma

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Sex, drugs and...Robitussin? Many teenagers consider carrying over-the-counter painkillers and cough medications in their backpacks a routine no-brainer—something parents and doctors would recommend for fending off headaches or menstrual cramps.

But a recent study revealed that 9 percent of adolescents surveyed had taken over-the-counter cough medicines to get high, the same percentage that used cocaine, crack and Ecstasy.

While possession of illegal drugs by students typically gets more headlines and elicits more concern, abuse of legal drugs is a very real problem in schools—a problem that often flies under the radar and is difficult for officials to regulate.

Should students be allowed to carry basic over-the-counter medications in school? Will requiring students and parents to notify school officials about the medications students carry prevent abuse of these meds—or just more paperwork?

3 Comments

Just yesterday, our team of teachers concluded that a certain student at our school was obviously abusing perscription drugs. She had to be taken from our school campus via local emergency services, but when the student arrived at the hosiptal, refused treatment. What do we do about this child? We have no parental support with this child. It is a bad feeling to know as a teacher, we are helpless in this case.

while some students may have a legitimate reason for taking a medication such as advil or tylenol,Students (and adults) have a tendency to share with others . They do not understand that it could be harmful to take excessive amounts of any med. I am concerned that the medication may be something else. We do not permit it in our school. who is going to check to see if it is prescription, over the counter or illegal? better to just say no.

Who removed my right to teach?

I am a 21 year veteran secondary school teacher with three degrees and will soon add a fourth. Last month a student appeared to “snort” some type of white substance through a rolled up bill while using one of our classroom textbooks as a platform. Upon witnessing this in the classroom I immediately turned both the marred book (three channels cut into the face cover) with residuals apparent and the student over to the school authorities.

The incident had occurred just prior to the ending class bell ringing making it necessary to follow the student out. I was not able to immediately detained the student and instead went to the vice principal’s office. This was what I had understood I was to do if faced with this scenario; go to a higher authority. I was told later a pursuing search by administration and law enforcement officers revealed some type of unidentified pills in the student’s procession. The student was removed from the school to await a zero tolerance hearing with the juvenile court.

The student returned to school today; not even a month since the incident. It seems this was prompted because the student's advocate (his lawyer)had arranged for what has been described to me as a "pretrial diversionary meeting”. I was informed of this "meeting" when asking of administration why the student had returned to school in the face of our “zero tolerance” rules and in the face of being “caught” in the “act”. Although two weeks have passed since making my complaint, I have not been contacted to discuss my complaint nor have I been required to provide further information beyond my brief hallway oral report. An explanation was offered to my questioning why allow a student to return,that during the pretrial meeting a prescription for a pain killer had been produced and in turn, the student had been allowed to return to school. Justification for the return was seemingly brought about due to the student’s name being on the prescription. It further seems to me that no “foul” was declared by the court; at least toward the questionable actions incurred by the student.

It is my belief that neither prescription nor medicinal identifiers were produced the day of the incident and I have pondered how someone else could not also question this if analyzing the case. Furthermore, I am unconvinced that any doctor if contacted, would be an advocate of encouraging a student to “snort” even a prescribed crushed pain pill as a equally applicable way to take same.

I would hope that people understand when I say I am shocked to see the student in question return to the classroom and I ask help in understanding the seemingly lack of interest with regard to what happened in my classroom. It is my belief that had not the student been seen as possibly possing pills had not occurred, I sense that the mere fact I witnessed a student taking a substance that appeared as a drug while in a classroom could have gone completely unnoticed beyond my classroom walls.

I sense too that this is just the beginning. I now am reevaluating what I should have done differently. Administration has assured me I did what I should have done and they ask nothing more of me. When approaching my principal about the apparent ineffective defense we have as educators to respond to witnessed acts of apparent drug related issues, it was related to me that this was the “way it was” and that the burden of proof we as educators must provide to the judicial system requires so much more than just “seeing” a student do something. The fact that I had seen the student commit a questionable behaviour was not enough. In a gut-wrenching response, I became nauseated.

As a teacher, I seem to be an extension of a technological “help button”, yet have even less empowerment to do so. Bombarded by accountability issues on a daily basis while my request for both the system and my students to be accountable prompts sneers. I sense my credentials are seen as mere wall decorations, my dedication as lunacy, my assertion of authority in the classroom not as a solution but as the problem, and my belief for a better tomorrow for the majority of my students as weaving a dream. But most of all, I sense that I have witnessed more this last month than just another case of prescribed drugs in the classroom;I have witnessed the removal of the last vestige of teacher empowerment-the dignity to teach.

Just one last question: Who prescribed that?

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  • Mata J. Banks/Classroom Teacher: Who removed my right to teach? I am a 21 read more
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