The Westborough public schools' chemical health policy changed Wednesday night to a "compromise" between two proposals: "clarifications" offered by the school board's chemical health policy subcommittee, and a document drafted by Vice Chairman Stephen Doret.
The school board approved the compromise policy offered by member Nicole Sullivan by a 3-1-1 vote. Sullivan, Doret and Chairman Ilyse Levine-Kanji voted for it. Member Bruce Tretter voted against it. Member Jody Hensley abstained.
The revised policy sets school penalties for Westborough students found "knowingly in the presence of" alcohol or drugs -- only at school-sponsored functions, and only if they don't use Westborough's PAL program (or a successor) to leave.
"These students are exhibiting proper and commendable behavior and by leaving, are not 'participating,'" the new policy states.
Also, the document defines "knowingly in the presence of" as "a student's participation in an activity" involving "a beverage containing alcohol, any tobacco products, marijuana products, steroids, or any controlled substance" and "whether they consume or not" and "without taking steps to leave."
The document also states that "Because Westborough maintains a stricter policy than the MIAA in terms of offenders as they will be declined contest eligibility for: (A) the time frames stated above or (B) the MIAA minimum guidelines (below), whichever is greater."
Sullivan presented each of these wording changes to the board Wednesday night.
In late April, the chemical health subcommittee proposed defining "knowingly in the presence of" as "'Knowingly in the presence of' is defined as being or remaining at a site, or in a building, residence, or vehicle in which a controlled substance or alcohol is being used, consumed, or possessed, including alcohol consumed or possessed by a person under the age of twenty one (21). 'Knowingly in the presence' shall not apply to activities that a student attends with his or her parent(s) or legal guardian(s) where controlled substances are legally consumed as long as the student does not personally consume those substances.
"Please note that 'knowingly in the presence' primarily addresses unsupervised, underage gatherings where alcohol or other illegal substances are consumed."
The subcommittee also proposed adding that "Violations are not limited to on-campus behaviors and activities, and will include after school events, weekends and school vacations."
On May 22, the school board voted 3-2, with Tretter and Hensley opposed, against the subcommittee's proposal.
Doret then presented his proposed draft that, he said, “protects and utilizes the good elements of our chemical health policy” and “defines the responsibilities and duties of the school committee and the administration” relative to state law. Doret said he patterned his text after those used at such schools as Boston University and Harvard University.
Westborough Patch will have more on this topic later this week.