CT: Waterbury Schools Consider Pot Law

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Waterbury – As of Oct. 1, Connecticut children will be able to use marijuana for a range of medical ailments under new state law.

School officials in Waterbury have little idea what this will mean for public schools, but believe they’ll have to make some policy change.

The new state law was one of several considered by the Board of Education’s Policy Committee Wednesday evening.

School Personnel Director Robert Brenker said he’s not certain what practical difference the law will make in the school day. School nurses will not be administering marijuana, he said. It won’t be allowed on school grounds, he said.

Brenker, speaking after the meeting, agreed that the impact might fall in the realm of discipline for students who appear to be under the influence.

Brenker told Board of Education members that school staff can ask for proof of a doctor’s orders if a child appears to be under the influence of marijuana. But the schools would be prevented from preemptively developing a list under federal medical privacy law.

Board of Education member Ann M. Sweeney said the legislation was not written to allow students to bring marijuana onto school grounds.

“It was written so students don’t get accused of being under the influence,” Sweeney said.

The district has to contend with other new laws, including:

A law requiring student data be secured. The district will have to ensure its computer service contractors and providers have adequate security, officials said. That’s not seen as a big issue. Most have security equal or better than the district’s, said District Information Technology System Administrator Will Zhuta.

A law concerning personnel records. Under an anti-cronyism provision of the law, school district job applications will now require applicants list school leaders who are friends, acquaintances and personal contacts, Brenker said.

Brenker, however, said the law only requires that relationships be disclosed and reviewed to avoid conflicts. They are not automatic bars to employment, he said.

Some board members worried this could end up barring a huge group of individuals from employment.

“I don’t know how we are going to hire anyone,” Board member Thomas Van Stone Sr. complained.

Sweeney said she expects the full school board to consider and vote on policy adjustments before Oct. 1.

The concern is the district now needs to ensure companies with access to student data agree in writing not to use it for marketing purposes. Zhuta anticipates this could prove dicey with giant companies like Google, which provides a range of free products and file-sharing services used by students and staff. Without a specific agreement in place, the district may have to stop using applications like Google Drive, Zhuta said.

Complicating matters, the district doesn’t even have a contract with Google. It uses products for free.

“Teachers love it and I hate to pull that back,” Zhuta told the Policy Committee.

Sweeney said she expects the full school board to consider and vote on policy adjustments before Oct. 1.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Waterbury Schools Consider Pot Law
Author: Staff
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Photo Credit: Seth McConnell
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