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Back to March Ed Reporter
Education Reporter
NUMBER 194 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS MARCH 2002

House Panel Approves Curb on Ritalin Recommendations

Rep. Lauri Clapp
Rep. Lauri Clapp
DENVER, CO - The Colorado House of Representatives' Health Committee voted 6-5 on Feb. 13 in favor of H.B. 1291, a measure that would require local school boards to prohibit school personnel from recommending psychotropic drugs for students. The bill now moves to the House floor for debate. (See bill summary.)

Rep. Lauri Clapp (R-Littleton) introduced H.B. 1291 after hearing testimony from parents protesting the recommendation of such drugs for their children for "acting up" or doing poorly in school. According to the Denver Post (2-14-02), one parent who was advised to put her child on Ritalin "removed sugar from his diet and worked more intensely with him" instead. She said that, ultimately, she removed him from public school and then he "began improving."

School Board Resolution 
Two years ago, the Colorado State School Board passed a resolu-tion warning of the possible dangers of psychotropic drugs on schoolchildren. (See Education Reporter, December 1999.) This resolution was introduced by then-board member Patti Johnson, who drafted it in response to parents' complaints that they had been pressured by educators to put their children on Ritalin.

For years, Ritalin has been the drug of choice for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These diagnoses are based on a list of symptoms which some experts characterize as merely part of growing up, and many parents have resisted placing their children on mind-altering drugs in order to control them.

Latest Research  
Data released last fall by the Brook-haven National Laboratory not only confirms the similarities between Ritalin and cocaine, but also shows that Ritalin "is more potent than cocaine in its effect on the dopamine system, which many doctors believe is one area of the brain most affected by drugs such as Ritalin and cocaine." (Insight Magazine, Oct. 1-8, 2001) Researchers found that, even in pill form, Ritalin blocks "far more" of the brain's mood-changing "transporters" than cocaine.

Ritalin critics believe the Brookhaven study is especially noteworthy because it exposes Ritalin as not merely similar to cocaine, as previous studies have suggested, but actually more potent than cocaine. Insight Magazine observed that these results "raise further questions about the validity and repercussions of having an entire generation of children diagnosed with a mental disorder or brain disease which to date has no basis in physical science." According to the most recent figures, one of every five schoolchildren was taking a mind-altering drug - primarily Ritalin - in 1998.

Connecticut Law 
Last May, Connecticut legislators passed a law (sponsored by Rep. Lenny Winkler) prohibiting educators from recommending Ritalin and other psychotropic drugs for use on schoolchildren. (See Education Reporter, July 2001.) In November 2000, the Texas State Board of Education adopted a resolution introduced by board member Judy Strickland expressing "serious concern" about the tremendous growth in the use of these drugs on schoolchildren.



A BILL FOR AN ACT
Concerning Limitations on
Recommendations Regarding
Student Behavior

Bill Summary
 
Requires each school district board of education to adopt a policy to prohibit school personnel from recommending or requiring the use of a psychotropic drug for any student. Requires each school district to designate one or more health care professionals who, with written consent of a studentís parent or legal guardian, may communicate with any person named by the parent or legal guardian concerning the childís behavior or actions. Requires the designated health care professionals to retain the original written consent given by the parent or legal guardian. Specifies that nothing shall prohibit school personnel from consulting with a person named by a parent or legal guardian concerning a childís behavior or actions upon the written consent of the parent or legal guardian.

 
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