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Board disciplines teacher

May 12, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

The Washington County Board of Education says it has taken "appropriate" action against a Clear Spring special education teacher who violated school policy on dispensing medication.

Citing personnel confidentiality, school officials won't say how they disciplined teacher Amy Beck.

After talking to Beck, Dr. Bruce Weneck of Hagerstown doubled a student's prescription for attention deficit disorder medication without his parent's permission, the 9-year-old boy's family alleges.

The doctor's prescription was not filled, but the boy's family is upset that they were not consulted.

School policy says family members must initiate all requests for medications to be given at school.

Both the teacher and the doctor have declined repeated requests for interviews.

Superintendent of Schools Herman G. Bartlett Jr. said Friday that school officials began an investigation within eight hours of hearing the family's complaint.

When the investigation was finished, Bartlett said the school board acted in "an appropriate way" based on his recommendation.

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"We think we've been responsive," he said.

Although Bartlett would not reveal the punishment, there are only two personnel actions that he needs board approval for - suspension without pay and dismissal.

Reva Largent, the boy's grandmother, said Friday that Beck's name is on a list of teachers who are scheduled to meet with parents later this month.

Largent said she is still upset that she can't be told details about the punishment. She doesn't think it's right that school officials are citing confidentiality in a case where the family's right to confidentiality was violated.

Most school board members contacted Friday declined to comment about the case.

Board member B. Marie Byers called the incident "unfortunate" and said she hoped it was isolated.

"At this stage in time, we have no reason to believe that this is an issue that is commonplace in the system," Bartlett said.

Byers said the board needs to make sure its policies are being implemented.

"Checks and balances are very important," she said.

Board member Doris J. Nipps said she doesn't think the board needs to take further action.

It was unclear why the teacher and the doctor did not talk to the boy's mother before changing his prescription.

A school medical form requesting an increase in the dosage of the drug Adderall is blank in the area where parents are to give their authorization. The form is signed elsewhere by the doctor.

That form and the doctor's prescription for 10 milligrams of Adderall specify the dosage was to be administered at school.

The prescription was dated April 7.

The teacher called the boy's mother, Margie Clay, that day. During the conversation, Clay became angry that Beck had talked to the doctor without her permission.

The family learned about the prescription by chance the following Monday when they called the doctor's office to get the original prescription for 5 milligrams a day refilled.

The boy is now going to a new doctor, who has switched his dosage back to 5 milligrams, Largent said.

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