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Monday, Sep 22, 2014

Pinellas school leaders schedule public hearing on electronic cigarettes

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LARGO — The Pinellas County School Board will hold a public hearing next month on a proposal to ban e-cigarettes from schools, but board members said at their Tuesday meeting they still have several questions of their own about the policy. Though School Board members supported banning e-cigarettes from school-owned property and school-sponsored events, School Board member Peggy O’Shea questioned whether students younger than 18 should be allowed to use nicotine patches, gum and products meant to help people stop smoking in school. There is pending Florida legislation that would outlaw the sale of such products to minors, and the school district shouldn’t “get anyone in trouble,” O’Shea said. School board member Janet Clark said she believed products aimed at helping people stop smoking should only be used with parental consent or a prescription from a doctor, just like any other medication in schools.

School Board members said they will continue their conversations on the school district’s nicotine and tobacco policies at Tuesday’s workshop.

School Board members also voted Tuesday to deny two charter school applications. Excel Charter School Pinellas, a K-5 school that hoped to open in Clearwater, and Palm Harbor Montessori Charter School, a K-8 school, were both denied because their proposed curriculum and program designs didn’t meet standard requirements. Both also had insufficient funding issues, said Dot Clark, director of charter schools and home education.

“When you look at the track record of charter schools in Pinellas, many are doing a good job but the ones that have closed started the year with shaky finances and never got better,” Clark said.

adawson@tampatrib.com

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