Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Zero tolerance policies are for people with zero intelligence"

H/T to Radley Balko over at The Agitator on this one.

The title of this post is a quote from State Senator Greg Brophy of Colorado, who was commenting on a moronic situation that is directly impacting a young man he represents.

You see, this young man has been afflicted by diaphragmatic and axial myoclonus, which can cause prolonged seizures.  He lost out on a lot of last school year due to his illness and the narcotics he was given to deal with it. 

When the narcotics, and the rest of the pharmacopoeia that was thrown at him didn't seem to work well enough, his doctor put him on a new cocktail of drugs that included the use of THC lozenges in the event that a seizure was not prevented by his other medications.  THC is the active agent in marijuana. This formula, including lozenges, seem to work for the young man.

The administrators of his school have informed him and his parents that he cannot come to school on days he has used the THC medication, and cannot use it on campus.  His father has appealed to the local officials for their understanding, but has hit a brick wall.  Apparently the local school officials would rather he be doped up on morphine at school or miss school entirely than let him put a THC cough drop in to keep a seizure at bay.

This young man wants to finish his education.  He wants to be a functioning part of society.  He is not blazing up a little Acapulco Gold in the parking lot when he feels a little woozy.  He is trying to go to school and participate by taking medication that is legally prescribed by his doctor and dispensed by his pharmacist.  And the nitwits who run his school are making him miss class in order to control his illness.

Things like this grate on me for a few reasons.  First and foremost is the medical marijuana issue.  I support the legal use of any medication when it is prescribed by a competent physician.  I'm  not going to talk about just legalizing it, that's for another post, but I am 100% for its use as a medicine.  My arthritis is well controlled, but I know several people who have one form of non-osteo-arthritis or another who couldn't control their pain without heavy narcotics who have at least some relief because they live in a medical marijuana state and use it under a doctor's supervision.  They're not stoners, they just use a drug in order to deal with their disease.  If I couldn't control my arthritis and the accompanying pain without the use of narcotics, and it was legal for me to do so, I'd fully support a suggestion by my doctor to try cannabis.

And then there's the parent's rights issue here.  These parents have worked with a medical professional to find an effective treatment for their son's malady.  They have changed their son's school so that he can go home to take his medicine.  As far as I can tell, they have bent over backwards so that their son can put a cough drop in his mouth when he feels a seizure coming on.  But the drones who run the school have done everything they can to thwart their efforts in getting their son a good education.

Things like this, where low level officials can't or won't make an independent decision, makes my blood boil.  If put in the same situation, I'd find it hard to remain civil with the principal, the school board, and the rest of the local government.  If I had it within my means, I would be finding a good private school that would be reasonable about accommodating my son's situation.  If not, I'd be doing what this father continues to do, which is to fight with all legal means necessary to get his son the best education he can.

Parents and doctors should decide which drugs are allowable for a student to take, either at home on a school day, or at school.  Principals, school boards, or legislatures would do best to keep their noses out of it.  I wish this family luck as they seek to do the right thing.


MrGarabaldi said...

We had a comical incident happen here in GA a few years ago, a female student went to school with her tweetybird wallet that had a chain on it. the school officials called it a weapon and under zero tolerance expelled her for that. That became the poster child for the zero tolerance movement and brain dead administrators. They had a change of heart after it went viral and the school district was made a laughingstock.

Spikessib said...

A parent refusing medication to a child would be arrested for child abuse. Perhaps these school officials who act in loco parentis during the school day should be held to the same standard.

DaddyBear said...

That's an interesting take on it K. The school has a responsibility for the students' safety and to a certain extent, their health. Are they guilty of neglect if they do not allow a student to take legally prescribed medicine?

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