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PACE Day: Safe and Secure Schools welcomes record attendance

Overall attendance at the fourth annual PACE Day: Safe and Secure Schools conference hit 280, setting a record high.

The event was held April 21 at the Hilton Eugene, offering attendees valuable information about the current school safety climate and the opportunity to network with other professionals.

The day was designed to serve members of the Property and Casualty Coverage for Education (PACE) insurance pool by providing support, resources and motivation to pinpoint and eliminate potential school safety issues. This year’s topics ranged from cyberbullying to transgender issues to marijuana legalization to conducting effective investigations.

Social media and cyberbullying

Charles Leitch, founding principal of Patterson Buchanan Forbes & Leitch, Inc. warned attendees of the very real cyberbullying issues schools and students face.

“Anything can go viral,” Leitch said.

It is essential for districts to have a clear technology policy in place to ensure student and staff safety. To receive E-Rate benefits, the policy must include a mandate about "... educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response." Click here for more information.

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Jollee Patterson, PPS, addresses
transgender issues at PACE Day.

Transgender issues in schools

“As education professionals, you have the responsibility to ensure a safe and supportive environment for students to learn,” said Jollee Patterson, general counsel for Portland Public Schools. She discussed the many definitions surrounding the issue, provided insight into current laws and talked about dorms, overnight trips and athletics; her materials can be found on the PACE website.

Marijuana legalization

Amanda Borup, policy analyst at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), discussed state regulations surrounding marijuana. The OLCC is taking action to ensure marijuana products do not look like other products (example: candy) and to regulate advertising to channels where minors make up no more than 30 percent of the audience. For FAQs and regulations, visit the OLCC website (www.marijuana.oregon.gov) or call (503) 872-6366.

Kathleen Sullivan, general counsel for the Colorado Association of School Boards, talked about the issues Colorado schools have faced since marijuana was legalized there. Disciplinary action is important, as Colorado has seen a 40 percent increase in drug-related suspensions and expulsions since marijuana’s legalization.

Marilee Scarborough, general counsel for Vancouver Public Schools (Washington) gave straightforward suggestions for communicating about marijuana in schools. Although recreational marijuana has been legalized in Oregon, schools remain drug- and alcohol-free spaces. This means schools must make some simple updates to their drug policies and procedures to specifically add “marijuana,” saying that marijuana is prohibited on campus.

Conducting effective investigations

Karen Vickers of Mersereau Shannon, LLP walked attendees through the investigation process. How can districts know if the complaint is valid and worth pursuing legally? Vickers’ guidelines and OSBA sample policies are available on the PACE website.