School division revamping policies to cover cannabis legalization

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Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD) officials are currently working on revisions of administrative procedures and policies to deal with the pending legalization of cannabis.

Updates are being made to the student substance abuse procedure 3-11, student suspension or expulsion procedure 3-15, and other procedures and policies, says Shawn Russell, associate superintendent of corporate services.

“We update our procedures on a regular basis and we will be looking to update them as they relate to the new cannabis legislation,” said Russell.

“As well as 3-11 and 3-15, we will also have to look at updating the procedures as they relate to employees in relation to the new legislation.

“We will certainly be getting advice from our legal counsel to make sure our policies and procedures align with the details of the regulations as they come out over the next months.”

Division officials working on the updates recently attended a session put on by a law firm on the topic of marijuana legalization, he said.

“There are still a lot of details that need to be worked out. They (governments) are building the plane as they fly it,” he said.

Asked if students who are 18 or older will be allowed to possess cannabis on school properties, he said no.

“It would be no different for someone who is over 18 cannot possess alcohol on school property,” he said. “We have the right to not have it on our premises. That would apply to everyone.”

Current procedure 3-11 states, in part, that, “The division believes student use of alcohol and non-prescription drugs is detrimental to the learning process and is therefore prohibited in schools, on school property or during school-related activities.”

There are currently nine sections in the procedure, including the following:

• Students who are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs

while in attendance at school or a school-sponsored

activity shall be immediately reported to the

principal. The principal shall segregate the student from the rest of the student body and take additional appropriate actions including suspensions as required. The principal shall ensure that the health and safety of the students is protected. The incident shall be recorded and the parent advised in writing.

• Students observed in possession of alcohol or non-prescription drugs while in attendance at

school or a school-sponsored activity shall be suspended by the principal and it may be recommended to the superintendent that the student be expelled. The incident shall be recorded and the parent advised, in writing, of the incident and the actions taken and/or recommended.

• A student observed in the act of providing alcohol

or drugs to another student shall be reported

immediately to the principal. The principal shall suspend the student and may recommend to the

superintendent that the student be expelled. The incident shall be recorded and the parent and the

superintendent shall be advised, in writing, of the

incident and the actions taken and/or recommended.

• Students whose behaviour during alcohol/drug related incidents becomes abusive or students

who are repeat offenders under this policy are subject to more stringent disciplinary action.

• School officials will cooperate with law enforcement agencies for the surveillance of trafficking or use of controlled substances on school premises.

• Remedial assistance should be sought for the student by the family and the counsellor or

appropriate staff member. This may include the help of AADAC, ALATEEN, and Alberta Mental

Health.

Current student suspension/expulsion procedure 3-15 reads, in part, that, “The act of suspension or expulsion should be based on the belief that the presence of the student in question would be detrimental to the education of others” and that circumstances in which expulsion or suspension would be considered include failure to “comply with the rules of the school.”

Recreational cannabis use is scheduled to become legal in Canada on July 1, 2018.

Associate superintendent Russell said he is confident all necessary changes will be in effect by that time.

There are 43 schools in Chinook’s Edge School Division.

“It would be no different for someone who is over 18 cannot possess alcohol on school property. We have the right to not have it on our premises. That would apply to everyone.”

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Dan Singleton

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 1994. He covers news, municipal politics and community events in Mountain View County. He is also a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.