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Douglas school district defines its drug policy

William Ferchland

Additions to prescription drug policies stemming from an incident at Whittell High School’s prom were unanimously approved last week by the Douglas County School District Board of Trustees.

The changes were added to policies regarding safe schools, use of medications, drug/alcohol abuse and suspension and expulsion procedure.

The April incident involved two seniors, Marcus Mellberg and Chris Shapiro. Mellberg brought a bottle of prescription ibuprofen and gave a pill to his friend, Shapiro, who asked for an Advil or a similar pain reliever for his legs. A school official spotted Shapiro handling the bottle and notified Vice Principal Ed Perkins.

A public outcry ensued. Both students served less than the 10-day suspensions they were initially given, but many parents and students expressed angry confusion over the board’s policies.

Board President Sharla Hales said after the Whittell situation “some clarifications were necessary.” But despite the additions, Hales feels they only strengthen and clarify what the board reiterated and wouldn’t have changed anything if they were in place at the time.

“If they wanted to be mad at someone, they should be mad at the board,” Hales said.

Carson City attorney Thomas Patton applauded the additions since he argued on behalf of Marcus Mellberg that the board didn’t have a sufficient policy on students taking prescription drugs.

He said he’s still considering filing litigation against the district on that premise.

“They are to be commended for giving some thought to this and putting together a policy that gives some guidance,” Patton said.

Nancy Bryant, assistant superintendent of education services, said the policy had to revised because of a new Nevada law allowing students to carry Epi pens and asthma inhalers at school.

“(Whittell) probably brought to light we had to clarify things in the policy, but we would have opened them up anyway in light of the new law,” Bryant said.

Policy changes

— Addition to safe schools policy (529a) and suspension and expulsion policy (529) for prescription drugs in Douglas County School District:

A prescription drug is defined as a medicine or remedy prescribed by a physician for a specific individual. Students found distributing a prescription drug regardless of the classification of the prescription must be suspended from school for up to 10 days pending a hearing before the board for consideration of further suspension or expulsion. At the conclusion of the expulsion hearing, the student may receive a suspension or expulsion equal to time served up to permanent expulsion.

— Addition to use of medications policy regarding health issues in Douglas County School District:

Some students are required by their individual health practitioner to take over-the-counter or prescribed medications. These students will have on file permission forms signed by the doctor and/or parent. This form, Medication Assistance Request, will be copied for district employees such as teachers, coaches, advisors and classified staff. Appropriate doses of the prescription or over-the-counter medication will be given to the district employee for his/her first aid kit for use

on games/events away from his/her school. The district employee will make the medication

available for the student at the designated time. Students may not possess their own medications, with the exception of Epi pens and

inhalers. They may carry their own Epi pens and inhalers with their doctor’s written and signed consent.

If a student is injured during a game/event/meet, the district employee must complete a “Student Accident Report.” This completed report is given to the school nurse on the next school day.


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