JAY — School Committee members voted unanimously Thursday to reject a first reading of a revised policy on drug and alcohol use by students after a discussion on energy-boosting drinks bought over the counter.

That means the policy remains as is unless it comes back to the board with another proposed revision.

The concern about energy drinks that come in different forms known by a variety of names, including Red Bull, Monster and Venom, is legal stimulants in the ingredients including caffeine, Taurine, ginseng and guarana.

The student drug use policy prohibits performance-enhancing or mind-altering over-the-counter drugs. The penalty is 10 days suspension for possession/use of the prohibited substances. If the student is on a sports team, they would be suspended from the sport/season and lose any award they may be eligible for, among other penalties. If students are participating in a yearlong co-curricular activity such as drama, they would be suspended from participation for 30 calendar days.

A second offense would be referral to the school board for expulsion.

Superintendent Robert Wall said some students had a difference of opinion on sports drinks such as Monster because athletes from other school systems they compete against are allowed to have them and bring them to the Jay school grounds.

Wall said he and other administrators got a group of students together to work on the policy, and they came up with new wording and eliminated “prohibits any performance-enhancing or mind-altering over-the-counter drugs.”

The recommended wording added under prohibited conduct, which covers marijuana, steroids, controlled substances, narcotics and other drugs, was: “This should include using more than the manufacturer’s recommended dose of legal/noncontrolled over-the-counter drugs or drugs prescribed to the student for specific purposes.”

“Up to now, students were prohibited from using sports (energy) drinks while in school, on campus or involved in a school activity,” Wall said.

Under the guidelines of the existing policy, middle school Principal Scott Albert said he would be required to suspend a student for 10 days if they were to have a Monster drink.

Energy drinks did not exist when the policy was put together, Albert said. Some parents allow their children to drink them, or children are drinking them without their parents’ knowledge, Albert said. There are even candy bars such as Snickers and lollipops that have the energy-boosting ingredients in them, he said.

Board Chairwoman Mary Redmond-Luce opposed the new wording. Some parents would be shocked if their kids had an energy drink, she said. She said it would be a dangerous precedent to set, and the only way she would allow the policy to go through is if parents gave written permission.

Vice Chairwoman Tammy Dwinal-Shufelt asked how administrators could enforce whether the students had more than the recommended amount.

Student board member, Hillary Chaney said she was fine with the way the policy is now.

Teacher Julie Taylor said that staff has always told students if they see them with an energy drink that they couldn’t have them.

Dwinal-Shufelt said if they are banned from campus now, those who come onto school property should also be prohibited from having them.

Teacher Annette Girardin said that technically student athletes are not supposed to have caffeine because is slows reflexes.
Taylor also noted that all energy drinks are not created equal. Some are diluted and have different serving sizes.

Taylor and Albert also noted that there was Lifewater dispensed from vending machines at the high school and those contain some of the ingredients in question.

Board members discussed having a separate policy that dealt with energy drinks but made no decision.

“I think we should be promoting health,” Redmond-Luce said, and continue the ban on energy drinks.

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