Dougherty policy for medication causes headaches among student body

Elisa Fang, Editor-in-Chief

A policy set by the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) mandates that all medication, including inhalers and EpiPens, must be registered with the administrative office, or the student carrying it may be subject to disciplinary action.

This same policy also prohibits the carrying of over-the-counter drugs on the student “at school, walking to and from school or on a school bus,” according to the Medication Release form. This form is the center of general health and medication on campus. It consists of three parts: the first section that must be signed, dated and verified by a physician, the second to be completed by a legal parent/guardian and, lastly, a section regarding medication students would otherwise be in danger without. The medication brought to school must be in its original container from the pharmacy and kept in the office unless specifically stated by part three on the medical release form.

Not surprisingly, most students are not aware of this policy, and as a result, do not follow it. Classified as “misuse of medication,” disciplinary action in response to section 48900 of the educational code would be taken if a student is found carrying unregistered medication. According to Nurse Kathryn Rooney, the medication would be confiscated and sent to the front or nurse’s office, and a general email would be sent to the student’s parents informing them of the policy.

This policy on medication is instated because of certain health risks unknown to the school. A common misconception lies with the multiple names of ibuprofen: Advil, Motrin or Midol, for example. While these names all refer to the same drug, sometimes they can be confused with Tylenol, a brand of acetaminophen, that when taken can cause severe health issues known or unknown by the user. For this reason, teachers are not allowed to give students medication, and the nurse’s office doesn’t keep regular stocks of over-the-counter medication.

“We don’t have significant health profiles,” Rooney says. “If there was a list [of] students that said [those students] could take Tylenol, for example, then when the situation arises, it would be better.”

Although the policy was created to help students and staff, it has its own drawbacks and can be inconvenient. For those who suffer from headaches induced by stress or pressure, as well as those who suffer from menstrual cramps, the choice to carry one’s own medication freely, with consent from a parent/legal guardian is “up to them on how they feel and when they need [the medication], not the school’s,” says sophomore Crystal Liu.

Rooney adds that “[being able to carry their own medication] would keep students at school. When students don’t have the medication they need they [often] need to go home or wait for their parents to bring it to them, and that interrupts the school day.”

The Medical Release forms can be found under the ‘Forms’ subsection under ‘Enrollment,’ which in turn is found under the ‘Parents & Students’ tab in the navigational links on the SRVUSD website. The forms are to be filled out annually — even more frequently with new prescriptions or changes in dosages. At the end of the school year, or if medication has expired, a parent or adult representative must pick up the unused medication, otherwise it will be discarded.

The form applies to all medication, but on its own, the form secures only the assistance by the school nurse or other designated school staff. For cases that may require more extensive or specific medical help would fall under either the 504 Plan or Individualized Educational Plan (IPE), which guarantees academic fairness in the face of possible disability.