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A policy addressing students’ personal communication devices and confidentiality is headed back to committee level, while another will move forward for action at the July 23 Sauk Prairie School Board meeting, despite one board member’s attempt to amend language he felt interfered with a person’s right to choose a legal food supplement for student athletes.

Policy 5136, Wireless Communication Devices to Personal Communication Devices was discussed at the board’s June 25 meeting. Following that meeting, Sauk Prairie School District Superintendent Cliff Thompson sought legal clarification on students’ rights with regards to confidentiality after conferring with Neola, the district’s educational policy consulting firm.

“I wrestled with the fact is this something that should be looked at by legal counsel more in depth,” Thompson said. “I called Neola and they encouraged us – especially in dealing with matters involving student voice – to see what the school district attorney has to say.”

School District Attorney David McFarland offered a few suggestions with regard to the policy, including removing language that states ‘students have no expectation of confidentiality when using a phone on school property’ and to consider language saying ‘policy does not apply in situations where students using a PCD where it functions as assistive technology necessary for the student’s education’ such as with an individual education plan.

Thompson said the board might want to consider amending the policy. Board vice president Richard Judge made a motion to refer the policy back to committee, which was unanimously approved by the board.

Language in Policy 2431, titled, Interscholastic Athletes, caught the attention of board member Dennis Virta, who said language in the policy interferes with students’ rights to ingest legal substances by banning the use of dietary and nutritional supplements. Virta encouraged his fellow board members to amend the language at the board meeting, calling it “overreach” by the district.

“Certainly if it’s been banned by the WIAA or by law, then forbid it,” Virta said. “But if it’s not, I see that as overreach.”

Virta said the policy as written also places burden on lunch staff to ensure protein shakes aren’t ingested at meal time. Another concern Virta has with the policy language is by banning legal, nutritional substances, top athletes could choose to enroll in another school district.

Virta urged the board to amend the language to strike the term ‘and food supplement’ from the policy language. However, the motion failed due to a lack of receiving a second from other board members.

Judge told Virta he could attempt to amend the policy again at the July 23 board meeting when it is before the board for action. He said it his belief the policy does nothing to ban any substances that are legal; that it has to do with the dispensing of them by school personnel, and asked Harnisch for his thoughts on the policy.

Harnisch said the district’s policies are somewhat general, but intentionally so to allow for “some professional determination in how we make decisions.”

He said he’s comfortable with the policy language, and said the athletic director is also.

Reporter, Sauk Prairie Eagle