Questions arise at Bath schools meeting over alcohol, tobacco policy

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By Ansley Prior
Bath-Dewitt Connection staff writer

Bath High School

BATH — Confusion grew at the monthly Bath School Board meeting when a change to the Alcohol and Smoke-Free Schools, Grounds, Vehicles and Facilities Policy was brought to the table.

According to Michigan law, schools must always be alcohol and tobacco free, and school grounds must be alcohol and tobacco free during school hours. However, the Michigan Association of School Boards, wants to ban both substances from school grounds at all times.

Superintendent Jake Huffman, said a new policy would be a positive update for the community, even though the school system has had little problem with the current policy.

“We periodically get recommendations from MASB on policies we should update or revise to stay compliant with current law or standards of practice,” Huffman said. “I’m OK with changing it to a 24/7 policy.”

However, some board members are worried because it’s only a board policy, and may not carry the same weight as the law does in the public’s eye.

“The question that we have to think about is whether having a policy mandates enforcement,” Board Member Steve Plemmons said.

Other potential problems include issues that create blurry lines within the policy. For example, smoking in cars on school grounds during sporting events, and if the policy will stay in affect for events like Bath Days, when visitors park in the school lots.

Despite the concerns, Huffman is confident the district will be able to make a smooth transition into the new policy if it is approved.

“We will need to work with our staff and community to make sure that the new policy is communicated to all that are involved with our school and programs,” Huffman said. “We will then have the administrative follow-through to ensure compliance with the policy.

Middle school student James Tulppo had an idea of his own to share with the board.

“I think students could help by informing their parents and encouraging them to follow the rules,” Tulppo said. “I have two parents that smoke and I’ve had to remind them a few times.”

For now, the policy has been tabled for further review at the next meeting.

“As with any change, there will likely be some need for transition,” Huffman said. “But we have an outstanding staff and group of people that will ensure that we are compliant with the policy.”

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