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Author Topic: Can a school require students to medicate?
FiredrakeRAGE
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Link
quote:

CHERYL CORNACCHIA
The Gazette

Sunday, April 02, 2006

CREDIT: MARCOS TOWNSEND, THE GAZETTE
Gabriel Lavigueur was suspended from his South Shore school on March 20. His mother, Danielle, says his Ritalin was causing insomnia, loss of appetite and aggression.

The case of a 12-year-old Longueuil boy suspended from school when his mother refused to give him Ritalin has sparked concerns over who is in charge of the medicine cabinet.

Do parents have the right to say "no" when their child's school says they need prescription drugs?

"Absolutely, they do," said Montreal family law lawyer Alan Stein.

However, Stein said, some parents second-guess themselves when a teacher or school social worker recommends Ritalin, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system and is used mainly to treat attention deficit disorder.

Stein was reacting to the case of Gabriel Lavigueur, who was suspended from Ecole Secondaire St. Jean Baptiste in Longueuil on March 20. He remains out of school.

After two meetings last week with the boy's mother, Danielle Lavigueur, Stein said he will petition to file a class-action suit this week in her name and on behalf of Quebec parents who believe they have been bullied into putting their children on Ritalin.

The Quebec-wide suit is expected to tap into growing concerns about the long-term consequences of the stimulant that has been called "kiddie cocaine," and on how Quebec schools have become increasingly involved in the Ritalin prescription process.

To date, parents have been fighting the troubling trend on a case-by-case basis, said Richer Dumais.

Dumais is the executive director of a Montreal-based non-profit parents' rights group, the Commission des citoyens pour les droits de l'homme.

Over the past year, his group has received 81 complaints of parents being pressured to put their children on Ritalin by a teacher, school principal, board social worker or psychoeducator.

The group has documented 13 individual cases involving mostly boys, age 8 through 12, and in schools in Montreal-area school boards, among them the Commission scolaire de Montreal, the Commission scolaire Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Commission scolaire Marie-Victorin.

In protest, he said, the group has written letters to the school boards involved, the Quebec College des medecins and to the provincial Education Department.

In Quebec, prescriptions for Ritalin doubled between 1999 and 2004, according to IMS Health, a Montreal-based company tracking prescription drug sales.

Dumais said those increases mirror the success of the Quebec government's education department's 2000 action plan, a research and community-based program designed to identify schoolchildren at risk and help them succeed.

Over the past two years, according to the Education Department, 148,147 Quebec children have been identified as "at risk."

Ritalin may be part of their individualized education plan, said ministry spokesperson Francois Lefebvre, but if it is, the drug is prescribed by a doctor.

That's well and good, Dumais said, but when a parent is told his or her child will be expelled from school if he or she doesn't take Ritalin, that's coercion.

"We're going to see a lot more cases of this kind of thing," he predicted.

In one instance documented by his group, he said, "the parent was told by his son's teacher that his son had problems with the neurons in his brain."

The parent responded: "Are you a doctor?"

In the case of Gabriel Lavigueur, his mother had signed a "plan d'intervention" that identified him as "at risk" and included prescription drugs along with other school, community and home initiatives.

But she said she stopped giving her son Ritalin at the beginning of January when he started suffering side effects, including insomnia, loss of appetite and aggressiveness.

Simultaneously, she said she also stopped giving him Paxil and another medication, two other drugs he had been prescribed but which are not approved by Health Canada for anyone under the age of 18.

At that time, Lavigueur said, her son, who is bright but has been labelled hyperactive with attention deficit disorder, became less agitated. His appetite and ability to sleep returned.

But school officials said they also noticed a change in his behaviour. They maintain Gabriel Lavigueur became unmanageable.

He was given repeated two- and three-day suspensions in January and February and was eventually suspended indefinitely.

Francois Houde is the lawyer representing Commission scolaire Marie-Victorin.

Ritalin, Houde said, had nothing to do with Lavigueur's indefinite suspension.

Houde said the boy repeatedly failed to follow the school's regulations pertaining to dress, hair colour, behaviour and school performance.

He added the school is open to allowing the boy to return if he is willing to follow its ''code de vie" and the intervention plan his mother signed.

However, George Mentis, president of National Parents Association, another Montreal group compiling cases, said "it's a Catch-22."

When he hears the term "code de vie," he said, "it means medicate your child or else."

"It's an alarming trend," Mentis said.

On Friday, Mentis and Danielle Lavigueur met with Houde, the board's lawyer and other school officials involved in the case.

"They keep saying drugs are not the issue," Mentis said. "But they also say Lavigueur can't come back to school until he follows the intervention plan that mandates drugs."

It sounds as though the students profiled for this news article are merely in the 'rebellious teenager' phase, and not actually a danger to anyone.

I would say that if a person is a danger to others, that individual, a minor in a public school, could be forced to medicate. In most other cases the use of medications should be up to the parents, with the advice of teachers and doctors. In this case, it seems obvious that they've gone significantly beyond that point.

I was unable to find another article to reference this; this article could be a one-sided release by those filing this lawsuit.

--Firedrake

[ April 02, 2006, 06:41 PM: Message edited by: FiredrakeRAGE ]

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Jesse
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If they're citing his hair color as a reason for expulsion, I'm inclined to believe that they haven't got much of a case for him being a threat to others.

No one should be recomending prescription medication for anything to anyone unless they are liscensed to do so, and that goes doubly for anyone in the public employ.

In the US, this problem is rampant, and I honestly attribute it mostly to a lack of male teachers. Anyone who has dealt with rebelious boys knows how diferently they generally behave when confronted with a male authority figure. I chalk it up to pheromones, with absolutely no scientific evidence to back me up.

In any event, this is a long standing problem here as well. It's wrong.

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philnotfil
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A lot of schools do this. They will tell the parents that if their child wants to stay at that school they will have to start taking medication. Sometimes they will even threaten to call child services on the parents if they don't give in right away.

Sometimes the kids really do need it, but most of the time the school just wants thenm to be easier to handle.

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Ivan
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If the school is telling the truth, I have no problem with this. If the child is doing things that mertit suspension, suspend him. You can argue about what merits suspension, but once you have that standard, the other question is obvious.
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Digger
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This is one the wife and I have discussed specifically. If our school system ever came to us with a request to medicate our kids, and we felt it wasn't necessary, we'd be ready to go to the mat over it. From my wife's point of view, that protective motherly instict has a real ugly side to it.

And I'm just plain stubborn.

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Cytania
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Has the school system become obsessed with turning out compliant cubicle slaves?
Everyone should get used to the fact that alot of things in society are there to fail at what they do. Schools are there to impose uniforms and rules. Kids respond with dyed hair and pranks. Kids then learn the consequences.

This use of drugs seems somehow based in the false notion that kids can be made to love school.

Now ask yourself if you met a teen who was polite, smart, reserved, loved Bush, their parents and school - wouldn't you think they were the creepiest, most false, suck-up that ever walked?

Kids _should_ be full of 'piss & vineagar', it's also known as 'fire in the belly', 'joie de vivre', youthful exuberance, 'can do' - 'get up and go' American spirit...

If we can't tolerate or find an outlet for all that energy then it's our problem.

[ April 03, 2006, 08:30 AM: Message edited by: Cytania ]

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FuzzyBink
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I think it's important to differentiate the kind of schools involved.

I know nothing about Quebec school systems, but I think in America, a public school, paid for by the government, should have no business dictating what medication the child should take. There is no law to sanction this, locally or nationally.

Private schools it's a bit more tricky. They can pretty much do whatever they want unless it falls under discrimination laws. But still, to usurp the judgment of parents for a larger institutional bias (that ADD exist; that behaviors should be corrected for medicine) seems wrong to me, morally if not legally (I don't know how legal guardian statutes work...).

In addition, I don't see why they address and give warnings to certain behavorial problems which cause disruption rather than prescribe a medication.

[ April 03, 2006, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: FuzzyBink ]

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MattP
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I have no problem with a child being kicked out for not meeting behavior/grooming/dress standards. The fact that they can only meet those standards while medicated is not the school's problem and is really only coincidental.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Cytania:
Now ask yourself if you met a teen who was polite, smart, reserved, loved Bush, their parents and school - wouldn't you think they were the creepiest, most false, suck-up that ever walked?

No. Your facts don't provide enough for a rational person to make that sort of judgment. It seems hateful to me to set that kind of limits on what kids can be, and call them untrue to themselves just because they don't live up to your expectations.

quote:
Kids _should_ be full of 'piss & vineagar', it's also known as 'fire in the belly', 'joie de vivre', youthful exuberance, 'can do' - 'get up and go' American spirit...
If that's their style, dandy. if they are doing it because they don't want someone to say that they are "creepiest, most false, suck-up that ever walked," then they are being false. And if you don't think that there are kids otu there that just act out simply because they think that is what's expected of them, then you are naive or in denial.
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Richard Dey
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It's outrageous! Why not fire all the teachers for being so fugging bor-r-r-ring?
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DonaldD
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And from this article, the "truth" is impossible to know.

However... that taking (specific) prescription drugs be a clause in a parental agreement is ridiculous - sure, suspend the kid for not meeting behavioural norms, but to require that he use a preferred drug - yuck

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Pelegius
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There are only 5 groups of people who have the right to have a say on this issue, in order of importence, the child (who is, in this case, old enough), the parents, the doctors, the pharmicists and, finaly, the teachers. On this issue, parent trumps teacher. Nota Bene, the school nurse should have no say in the matter at all, as he is neither likely to know the child well not allowed to perscribe medicine.
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MattP
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The school has the first vote on whether the student is behaving in a manner consistent with providing a quality education to their classmates.
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KnightEnder
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My answer to the question the post asks; Hell no!

KE

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Richard Dey
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Good heavens! Not back to the original question! Such a precedent.
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Richard Dey
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(teenyweeny letters) but I am secretly glad to see that KE has abandoned his right to require Ornerians to be drugged into submission [Wink] .
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DonaldD
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Sure, Matt - but the school has absolutely no standing in how to change the student's behaviour. Yes, enforce rules, but require specific medical treatment against the wishes of the parent? No. If the school can't tell the difference in behaviour without checking his prescription, it's not an issue. If the kid's behaviour is unacceptable while taking the drugs, same thing.
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FiredrakeRAGE
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The other thing to keep in mind is that kids (especially boys) cannot be expected not to fidget and so forth during a long class. While we should actively discourage such behavior (learning to sit through a boring lecture is a life skill [Wink] ), medicating it out of existence is not the answer.

--Firedrake

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ngthagg
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Let me see if I have this right: the kid isn't fitting in very well, but he can if only he would take a particular drug. Is this a school, or a pusher trying to hook the kid on crack? Pelegius has the right of the matter: the school should have some input on whether a kid needs Ritalin, but they don't have the final say.

ngthagg

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IrishTD
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quote:
The other thing to keep in mind is that kids (especially boys) cannot be expected not to fidget and so forth during a long class. While we should actively discourage such behavior (learning to sit through a boring lecture is a life skill ), medicating it out of existence is not the answer.
So true. So very true. Does anyone know how much recess time K-8 kids get (because I have no clue) on average?
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Cytania
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Hi, Pete, yes I guess you're right kids come in all varieties and some are quiet and compliant. Not sure I can figure them out but I guess they exist.

PS. I was the one with the weird ideas and crazy notions at school but I guess that's obvious [Big Grin]

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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
Sure, Matt - but the school has absolutely no standing in how to change the student's behaviour.

I agree. However the school insists that they are not asserting any such standing.

Think about it logically - regardless of how evil of beaurocratic weenie a school administrator or teacher may be, why would they care what medications a student was taking as long as the student conformed to guidelines for expected behavior.

Perhaps there is case to be made that the guidelines are unreasonable, or that the school has a responsibility to provide an educational environment in which a student with behavior problems will not cause problems for those without. Such a case is not being made though. The parent says that the school wil not allow him to attend unless he takes a certain drug. That just doesn't make sense.

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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by FiredrakeRAGE:
The other thing to keep in mind is that kids (especially boys) cannot be expected not to fidget and so forth during a long class.

Absolutely. But if there is one kid who's constantly acting out while the others are not, then that kid needs to be dealt with. The school cannot impose medication, but it can certainly refuse to allow him in the classroom. If the only way to get his behavior back into line is to medicate then that's the parent's choice - medicate and keep him in school, or find another way to provide an education for him.

For what it's worth, I was that kid.

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Dave at Work
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quote:
MattP said:

I agree. However the school insists that they are not asserting any such standing.

According to the article, while the school does insist that Ritalin has nothing to do with the suspension they also say that they are willing to allow him to return if he agrees to follow the intervention plan his mother signed. The article also mentions that the intervention plan includes prescription drugs suggesting that this claim by the school is bogus. Now as this is the only article that I have seen on this there is no evidence to support the schools claim that the refual to take Ritalin has nothing to do with the suspension. They are apparently hoping that you will ignore the fact that the intervention plan calls for the drug.

quote:
From the end of the quoted article in the first post:

Francois Houde is the lawyer representing Commission scolaire Marie-Victorin.

Ritalin, Houde said, had nothing to do with Lavigueur's indefinite suspension.

Houde said the boy repeatedly failed to follow the school's regulations pertaining to dress, hair colour, behaviour and school performance.

He added the school is open to allowing the boy to return if he is willing to follow its ''code de vie" and the intervention plan his mother signed.

However, George Mentis, president of National Parents Association, another Montreal group compiling cases, said "it's a Catch-22."

When he hears the term "code de vie," he said, "it means medicate your child or else."

"It's an alarming trend," Mentis said.

On Friday, Mentis and Danielle Lavigueur met with Houde, the board's lawyer and other school officials involved in the case.

"They keep saying drugs are not the issue," Mentis said. "But they also say Lavigueur can't come back to school until he follows the intervention plan that mandates drugs."

quote:
earlier in the article was this:

In the case of Gabriel Lavigueur, his mother had signed a "plan d'intervention" that identified him as "at risk" and included prescription drugs along with other school, community and home initiatives.


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LoverOfJoy
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Can a school require students to innoculate? How much different is that from requiring students to medicate?

I don't think a school should be allowed to do either, but I'm not entirely sure.

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MattP
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I know in my area you aren't required to innoculate, though that fact is not advertised.

What about a psychotic student? Can their attendence be contingent on their taking of anti-psychotic drugs?

I don't think the school really cares about the drugs except as far as they are required to make the student conform to their standards. If the school noticed an improvement while the student was medicated that went away when medication was discontinued, then is there a difference between "he must meet standards of behavior" and "he must take his meds"? I still think the school's concern is behavior, not medication.

There is not enough information in this article to determine if the parent has submitted alternatives to medication for solving the behavior problems. I'd be a bit incredulous to hear if school is really insisting on medication but not scrutinizing behavior.

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Koner
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quote:
There is not enough information in this article to determine if the parent has submitted alternatives to medication for solving the behavior problems.
I was one of those "bright yet hyperactive" boys when I was in school. I had a VERY difficult time paying attention to class. I was always fidgetting and out of my seat. The difference I suppose is that I aced tests and was generally ahead of every other kid in class. I would get in trouble for doing other kids work for them so that we could get on to the next lesson.

If I were in elementary school today I am convinced that I would be on ritilan. When the teachers had a difficult time controlling my behavior there would be a phone call to mom and dad who would use the threat "If you don't behave I'm going to paddle your ass when you get home". Always straightened me right up. I can only remember my father "paddling" me once in my entire life. My mother says that she would spank me when I was misbehaving but I have no memory of her ever once hitting me. The threat was always enough to keep my hyperactivity and behavior in check.

Its unfortunate that parents are no longer allowed to use those parenting techniques because I certainly haven't suffered any lasting problems from it.

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MattP
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I was one of those kids too. I aced tests but didn't do my homework or pay attention in class. I dropped out of high school in my senior year. My dad would whip my bare bottom with his belt all too frequently but it had no effect on my behavior except to cause me to grow up with little love for my father.

Now I work as a software developer making good money, own my home, drive a sports car, have a family, etc. I have only bad memories of school and my childhood relationship with my father. I can't say how ritilan or ADHD drugs or therapies would have changed things, but I suspect they would have helped.

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Jesse
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Koner, Parents ARE allowed to paddle their children. The standard in San Diego County is "no marks lasting more than 15 minutes". A good ten swats with a ping-pong paddle isn't going to leave marks lasting more than 15 minutes unless you're going at it like you're playing at Wimbleton or your kid is a hemopheliac.

I'm no fan of corporal punishment, but as long as you aren't leaving bruises, or breaking the skin, or breaking bones....you're ok pretty much everywhere. It's your parenting choice.

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