P.O. BOX 2120
October 28, 2001
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Security of Prescription and Non-prescription Medications

House Joint Resolution 660, passed by the 2001 General Assembly, created a joint subcommittee to investigate the improper prescription and illegal use and diversion of Ritalin and OxyContin. The subcommittee has expressed concern about the possibility of theft of medication.

School divisions are encouraged to review their current policies and procedures regarding the storage, maintenance, and administration of medications.

Guidelines for administration of medications in public schools can be found in the Virginia School Health Guidelines published by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education and distributed to each school building in January 1999. These guidelines may be located at VDH school health web page Information regarding safe storage of medication and training staff regarding proper procedures is also located in The Manual for the Training of Public School Employees in the Administration of Medication published by the Department of Education September 2000 and distributed to each school division.

Principals are reminded that any drug used for medicinal purposes is a Schedule drug and falls under the Drug Control Act of 1970 (§54.1-3400 through §54.1-3456, Code of Virginia). The Code also requires school officials to report to local law enforcement agencies "any conduct involving alcohol, marijuana, a controlled substance, imitation controlled substance, or an anabolic steroid on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity." (§22.1-279.3:1) This would involve possession, use, distribution, or theft of Schedule drugs by any person. In addition, §8.01-47 provides for the immunity of school personnel investigating or reporting alcohol or drug use or disclosure of related activities.

The Department of Education recommends that school and law enforcement officials work together to determine the best procedures for referrals. Please contact Marsha Owens at (804) 225-2928 or with any questions related to reporting drug offenses.

School divisions may obtain guidance in refining or developing local procedures for maintaining and dispensing medications by contacting Gwen P. Smith at (804) 786-8671 or