Corning school board takes up issue of pot brownies
It didn't come as a surprise that the subject of marijuana brownies was a topic of discussion during Wednesday's Corning Union Elementary School District Board meeting.
Parents continue to question the situation in which a district board member's son brought the brownies to Maywood Middle School and shared them with other students.
Several parents of Maywood students attended the meeting to vent their feelings about board member Laura Crane's eighth-grade son bringing marijuana-laced brownies to school on Feb. 10. He received a five-day suspension.
Trisha Williams, a mother of two Maywood students, said she understood the district was following its policy by giving Crane's son a five-day suspension, even though he had reportedly provided five other students at the school with the brownies.
Some people believe that takes the issue beyond possession, which the policy addresses, to distribution. The district disagrees.
"My problem is with Laura Crane. I feel she has been very unprofessional through this entire situation," Williams said.
She claims Crane has taken the incident to a personal level by accusing her of going to the television news media about the pot brownies and the suspension.
"I absolutely did not go to the media," Williams said.
Another parent of a Maywood student, Luke Green said he believes Crane's son wasn't punished correctly by the district.
"I have been in prison and have been clean for six years, and understand punishment. But this is wrong. He didn't just possess marijuana — he distributed it to other students," Green said. "Because of that, the police should have been involved and they weren't. There should have been an investigation as to where these drugs came from."
Retired police Chief Tony Cardenas, who was chief at the time of the incident, said the Corning Police Department encourages the district to achieve what they can within its system instead of always getting the police involved.
"We can't always investigate each and every situation that comes up at the district, such as this one. We rely on the school and district administrations, and their authority, to take care of these type of circumstances," Cardenas said.
He explained that the department did receive a report from the district on the recent mar juana brownie incident.
"In this particular issue, as there wasn't evidence outside the students' statements, we would only have gathered those statements and submitted them to Tehama County Juvenile Probation Department," Cardenas said.
During the discussion, the name of the student who brought the pot-laced brownies to school was disclosed publicly by a parent, which brought a strong response from board member Marty Mathisen.
"It is our responsibility to protect the confidentiality and privacy of our students and their families. This is something mandated by law," Mathisen said. "In my 30 years on this board, this has been the most disturbing experience, to have a student's confidential disciplinary action brought into the public in such an irresponsible manner. This has been terribly disturbing."
He said Laura Crane was entitled to the same expectation of privacy as any other parent and family in the district.
Crane did not speak during the meeting and could not be reached later for comment.
Board President Helen Pitkin said the situation brings to focus the problem with drugs and alcohol in schools.
The district's practice, extending back to the 2003-04 academic year, has been that a five-day suspension is more appropriate than expelling a student on a first offense for the possession of marijuana, said district Superintendent Catherine Reimer.
She explained there have been seven incidents of student suspensions for possession of marijuana on a first offense since 2003-04.
"The district's policy and practice has been to recommend for expulsion on a second offense for possession of marijuana. This is consistent with the Education Code, the laws that govern the state of California, and other districts' policies and practices within the state," Reimer said.
"We may need to re-evaluate our district policies concerning students bringing illegal substances to our schools," Pitkin said.