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FIRST-PERSON (Bob Noyes): Prop 19 puts Calif. schoolchildren at risk

LINCOLN, Calif. (BP)–When the Association of California School Administrators decides whether or not to support an issue, several questions are asked: Is it good for students? Does it protect student safety? What will be the impact on school leaders and their jobs? Is there any increased liability for school districts? Is there any financial benefit to schools? So when Proposition 19 was before us, we were quick to strongly oppose the ballot measure as it in no way benefits our schools and it puts students, teachers and administrators at risk.

The initiative that will legalize recreational use of marijuana throughout California, better known as Proposition 19, promises much more than is actually included in the language of the measure. It is a very poorly drafted initiative and provides rights of marijuana users over others, presenting employers and school districts with numerous problems.

First and foremost is the issue of student safety. Under the provisions of Proposition 19, school districts will not be able to guarantee that their workplace is in fact safe, given that drug testing will no longer be permitted and no action can be taken until after an incident has occurred. For example, a school bus driver under the influence of marijuana could not be stopped from getting behind the wheel even if the school district suspects they are impaired. Or if a teacher smokes just prior to coming to campus to teach his or her class, school administrators can’t do anything about it. If an accident does occur, it is then up to the school district to prove whether it was caused by the use of marijuana or not. This stands in the way of our duty as educators and administrators to keep kids safe while they are at school or a school-sponsored event.

If Proposition 19 passes, school leaders will be in the helpless and unfortunate position of suspecting someone is impaired, but not being able to do anything about it.

Next is the fib from proponents that the state will see millions in tax revenue. Not only does the initiative fail to include any provisions for taxation, but it would mean school districts would no longer comply with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, therefore losing money, at a time when our schools are already getting the short end of the stick in these tough economic times. In fact, it has already been estimated that schools could lose up to $9.4 billion in federal funding. Moreover, the provisions of Proposition 19 leave the issue of taxation up to each individual county and city in the state. Even if each of those decided to establish and enforce marijuana related laws, earning their county or city revenue, school districts would not see a penny of that.

Finally, Proposition 19 causes confusion for school districts and law enforcement officers alike as they will not only be forced to comply with numerous variations of regulations, based on what each county and city decides to do, but when they do suspect an individual is impaired, how will they prove such a thing? Unlike alcohol, there is no standard of impairment, granting marijuana a separate status and making it more difficult to confirm one is under the influence.

So when the time comes to fill out your ballot, join me in protecting our children, schools and communities and vote NO on Proposition 19.
Bob Noyes is the president of the Association of California School Administrators.

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  • Bob Noyes