LEWISTON — School Committee members declined to vote on a proposal from the superintendent to authorize the use of cannabis testing kits, citing their desire for a dedicated written policy and more information.

Superintendent Jake Langlais told the School Committee that the high school resource officer asked for permission to use SwabTek testing kits to detect traces of cannabis products on hard surfaces, skin or food items.

Langlais described the testing kits as a tool for administrators and resource officers to use when there is probable cause to believe students have cannabis products or are using those products on school grounds.

Several School Committee members expressed concerns for student rights and positive tests from traces of cannabis on students which originate from outside of school.

Members questioned whether students’ clothing might test positive with the kit if their parent had been smoking marijuana in the car on the drive to school, or if someone in the students’ households uses cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, cream for pain relief could leave traces on students’ items.

Additionally, at-large representative Megan Parks told the committee that the test does not differentiate between prohibited cannabis-related chemicals such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and similar, but acceptable, materials such as hemp clothing, according to the company’s website.


Parks and several other members expressed concerns about how the test trips would be used.

“I think if someone is found using a vape and it smells like marijuana or if they have an edible on them, testing those tangible items I think I would be comfortable with, but as far as just general surfaces without guidelines, testing a backpack, testing hands, testing clothing, I feel like that exposure can come from anywhere,” Parks said.

Lewiston Education Association President Jaye Rich additionally voiced her concerns for student rights during public comments.

“I think it needs a better look, maybe a policy would be more appropriate,” she said.

Ward 6 representative Paul Beauparlant spoke in favor of the testing kits and made a motion to authorize their use in Lewiston schools but did not receive a second, and the motion ultimately failed.

“I have seen the result of lethargy in the classroom, I have seen diminished scores, I have seen poor attitudes, I have seen students not reaching their potential,” Beauparlant said. “I see this as a device that will, not stop, but hinder, shall we say, or lessen, the use of marijuana in our schools.”


School Committee members seemed open to discussing the use of the testing kits again in the future. When that discussion occurs, Parks said the committee should also consider the Swab testing kits which detect traces of fentanyl and opioids.

At the start of the meeting, School Committee members agreed to move three agenda items to the next meeting at the request of City Council representative Linda Scott. She expressed concerns that committee members and the public had only received information on those particular items at 2 p.m. Monday, not two days before the meeting as required in Lewiston’s city charter.

“I am very concerned about the public not getting any notification that these were to be discussed this evening,” Scott said. “I honestly feel we shouldn’t even be discussing them at all tonight.”

The three agenda items regarded the deletion and approval of more than a dozen school policies.

One proposed policy that details the School Committee’s relationship with news media would compel all committee members to defer requests for comment to the committee chairperson, if approved next week.

At the end of the meeting, Scott asked the committee to add a discussion about designated places for students to pray in schools to a future agenda. Scott said she was approached by six students who are afraid to speak publicly regarding their concerns for the lack of such a place.

Committee members said they were unsure whether or not students have a designated prayer space in Lewiston schools and agreed to visit the topic at a future meeting.

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