SEBRING — Serious student discipline incidents, including drugs and alcohol infractions, require a hearing before The School Board of Highlands County, but should passing a bottle of alcohol to another student require a board appearance?
That was the discussion at Tuesday’s School Board meeting, whether or not sharing alcohol, which is classified as distribution, rises to the level of distribution of other substances or possession of drugs.
School Board Attorney John McClure noted some recent cases where someone takes their parent’s alcohol and puts it into a different container, brings it to school and a couple of students take a sip out of it — that is distribution of alcohol.
The question is what does the board do about it, he said. Previously the board policy has been that distribution of drugs or alcohol required a mandatory appearance before the School Board with the thought that distribution was more serious than possession.
But, if school staff believes it is not a major issue, they negotiate with parents for an 18-week, instead of a nine-week, program at the Academy at Youthcare Lane. So it is a program that is twice as long and twice as involved.
Typically in those cases when they came before the School Board, the student would admit that they did it and staff would recommend the 18-week Academy program, which the board would approve, McClure said.
In some of those cases, he believes it is a waste of everybody’s time. If the offense was a little more serious that would be a different story, McClure said.
The question of how serious is too serious, should be asked he said. “That is a very ambiguous line and I don’t have an answer for that.”
Obviously, if somebody brought an opiate or something more serious like that to school, that would be a different ballgame, McClure said. Then the nature of substance alone, not considering distribution, would warrant an appearance before the School Board.
If somebody brings a marijuana joint to school and somebody else smokes a hit, he doesn’t know how the board feels about that, he said.
School Board Chairman Bill Brantley added “brownies” to discussion of drugs and alcohol that can be shared.
School Board Member Jan Shoop said marijuana, being illegal for everyone, is a whole different “beast” than alcohol. Marijuana is kind of a stepping stone to other drugs so she would like to see those infractions come before the School Board.
Brantley said there have been a lot of cases where there was one bottle of alcohol and five kids take a tip, but obviously if they are selling it that is different. The sip issue, which there are a lot of, doesn’t warrant an appearance before the School Board.
Howerton said everyone agrees on the consequences.
Brantley said the sip issue will not require a School Board appearance, but everything else will.