Vacaville Unified School District, like many districts statewide, is facing challenges with the implementation of Proposition 64 and the impact of new marijuana laws in California.
“Districts are really looking at three different angles on the marijuana law,” said ACSA Legislative Advocate Laura Preston. “How do the new laws impact students, employees, and facilities.”
VUSD has taken a proactive step by holding a marijuana summit for secondary school administrators, counselors and psychologists. The summit included law enforcement, legal teams, and ACSA answering questions on new laws. The goal was to review the state Education Code and board policies, as well as how police officers are responding to the new regulations.
“We’ve been struggling with students bringing and selling marijuana and marijuana products on our campuses,” said Kimberly Forrest, VUSD assistant superintendent of Student Services. “Right now there is a lot of concern for districts – how do we go about enforcing laws and policies that are new and unclear.”
Jennifer Rowe Gonzales of the law firm Fagen Friedman and Fulfrost gave a presentation on the California Education Code, which dictates that students are automatically expelled if they are caught selling marijuana on a school campus. Despite changes to the legalization of marijuana in California, the Education Code has remained unchanged.
Several districts statewide are working with their boards to determine how to address the expulsion issue, with consideration to using intervention to support students instead of punitive consequences.
Preston said regarding employees, the impact of laws outside of California could have an impact on prospective certificated staff.
“Employees are required to get fingerprinted and right now we don’t know how a marijuana drug charge in another state will impact employment in California,” Preston said. “That facet of the law hasn’t been figured out.”
In consideration of facilities, dispensaries can’t operate within 600 feet of schools, although 1,000 feet is required under the federal Drug Free School Zone, with some cities forbidding the businesses from being within 1,000 feet of parks, day-care centers, and other sensitive areas. Districts themselves are confronted with the issue of students needing marijuana or Cannabidiol Oil for medicinal purposes.
“In so many cases an adult must come to campus and pull their student out, drive out of the 1,000-foot zone away from the school and administer the drug,” Preston said. “It’s an interruption to the day for the student and for the teacher, especially if the drug must be administered at a certain time or multiple times each day.”
Preston said the state needs to consider whether making on-campus facilities available to administer the drug is possible.
“There are a lot of unknowns right now, things that weren’t considered before the new laws passed in November,” she said. “Now we’re seeing the challenges of the new regulations, and ACSA is working with districts to determine how school administrators move forward in the best interest of students.”