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Former School Board Members: Change Chemical Health Policy

George Thompson, Rod Jane and Craig Harris say the "'knowingly in the presence' clause potentially creates a public health hazard."

Three former Westborough School Committee members want the current board to remove the "knowingly in the presence of" clause from the school district's chemical health policy, a clause approved during the trio's tenure.

George Thompson, Rod Jane and Craig Harris told the board in a letter submitted on Tuesday that "we are of the opinion that the anticipated public policy benefit relative to the behavior of Westborough students over the years has not materialized."

"Consequently, the policy unfairly penalizes good behaving students who serve as positive role models relative to those students who wrongly consume alcohol or drugs," the letter states.

"A policy that is neither effective or fair has no utilit and should be changed or eliminated altogether."

Current Chairman Ilyse Levine-Kanji said Wednesday she did not have a comment on the letter because the board is still discussing the policy.

The board plans to discuss the policy again at its next meeting, which is at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Forbes Municipal Building, and a vote is tentatively set for May 22, she said.

The board's policy subcommittee has proposed changes meant "to clarify the policy," member Bruce Tretter said during the board's April 24 meeting.

Tretter said the policy "gives out students more latitude and a socially responsible out."

But, parent Michael Donovan said the term "knowingly in the presence of" penalized --by "guilt by association" -- students who attend such functions but do not use drugs or alcohol.

Several parents agreed.

TBH May 02, 2013 at 08:19 PM
You are once again connecting dots here completely in an attempt to disprove any positive effect this policy has had. Thompson and the other former committee members' opinions carry no more weight that any other parent in this town. We are all Westborough residents and parents.
TBH May 02, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Jenni, I could not agree with you more. Removing this clause is a clear endorsement of these parties. It's ok if you go... just don't partake. Seriously?!
Contributor May 02, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Again, you are missing the point. Kids who were not drinking were getting punished. The policy was poorly written, it didn't even say mention being in the presence of underage drinking. Also, any kid who had a gripe against another kid could say they were at a drinking party. Furthermore, there is not any federal or state law that says kids cannot be in the presence of alcohol. The school dept was overstepping its bounds.
Mike May 02, 2013 at 10:18 PM
It's not a personal statement Jenni. The policy is outside the boundaries of the schools responsibility and authority. If you really want a rule that kids and parents need to respect then it's a police issue. Let them be concerned about being arrested and taken to the station. Let the parents be concerned about getting arrested for hosting. I don't actually have a problem with the language, I have a problem with the group setting the policy. Clearly not being allowed to participate in school activities is not a deterrent.
Jenni Speed May 02, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Contributor, I do get your point - I just don't agree that that is enough reason to scrap the policy. If we need to make changes to how it is implemented, let's do that. If we aren't punishing kids who need to be punished, let's do that. I don't care whether there is a federal or state law about kids being in the presence of alcohol. The more they are in the presence of alcohol, especially when it is being abused as it is at teen parties, the more likely they are to become drinkers, or abusers. It is a fact. Haven't we all always worried about who our kids hang around with, and who has influence on them? Don't we keep them from going places and doing things that might have bad influences on them? That's because teens will accept what they are repeatedly exposed to as the norm. If the way to protect them is to give them an incentive to stay home from the party, then that's what we do. I don't know you, so I am not accusing you. But I know too many parents have a "kids will be kids" attitude about teen drinking, and loosening this policy feels to me to fit in with that philosophy.

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