“We’re been looking at other school districts, trying to think about a way to help kids,” rather than punish them for their marijuana use, she said. Ultimately, she added, she would like to come up with a consequence that’s “thoughtful and useful.”
But she also pointed out that marijuana, despite now being legal in the state, still isn’t legal for minors. The dispensaries opening up around the state, for example, cannot sell products to customers under the age of 21.
Ms. Binienda also said the district’s current policy around marijuana is to suspend offenders for up to 180 days, which she believes gives administrators some leeway to soften or harshen a particular punishment depending on the circumstances.
“It’s not a zero-tolerance policy,” she said.
Mr. Comparetto said he’d like to know more about how discipline is decided at the schools, however, which is part of the reason why he sought a review of the marijuana policy. In general, he also wants the district to move away from using out-of-school suspensions to punish students, reasoning penalties should be looked at “on a case-by-case basis.”
Mr. Comparetto cited as an example the experience of Judith Rajotte and her daughter, Mya, who claim Mya, a sophomore at Doherty Memorial High School, was expelled for the school year for having a small amount of marijuana in her locker, despite being a first-time offender. He said such a long-term absence from school increases a student’s risk of not finishing school, committing a crime and exhibiting other dangerous behaviors.