“The assistant superintendent Cathy Myhers had said she would like to have Brooke on campus,” said the lawyer for the district Jennifer Nix, but it wasn’t clear that it was legal.
Instead, Rincon Valley offered one hour of home instruction a day and continued services of the nurse at home, rather than at school. Brooke’s parents wanted her to go to school. Her experience at preschool, interacting with other children and attending class, has helped her grow socially and academically, her family and medical professionals testified.
The parents took the school district to court.
The school district argued that while Brooke made social and intellectual progress attending a preschool, federal and state law prohibited students from having medical cannabis on school grounds. The medicine has been a life saver, according to Brooke’s family and her doctor, who testified in court that Brooke cannot function without it.
Dravet Syndrome has left Brooke with speech and language delays, behavioral and developmental delays and problems with movement and balance. The disease has to be treated daily, but it is “highly resistant to currently available medications.”
Myhers, the Rincon Valley assistant superintendent for student services who oversees the district’s special education program, testified that a school campus would be the best place to meet Brooke’s educational and social development goals, were it not for the illegality of having the medicine on campus. She testified that there was concern that if Brooke did come to campus with the medicine, it “could potentially jeopardize” funding for the district, since the district is supposed to provide a declaration that it is a drug and alcohol-free campus.
The court determined that the nurse and the child were well within the parameters of California’s Compassionate Use Act and the 2003 Medical Marijuana Program Act and interpreted those laws to say that qualified patients and their caregivers can have the medicine with them on the bus and on school grounds “if [they] followed the same procedures on a public school campus that she did in the preschool.”
“I was definitely relieved and excited and emotional,” Jana Adams said. The cannabis, she said, “It’s life, life saving, life changing.”
She said the drug has made a huge difference in the lives of their entire family. “I’ve had to stay home with Brooke from vacations and different things and now we can go places as a family, you know, it’s, it’s totally different,” Adams said. “I know that I have confidence that the THC is going to stop the seizure … I had no idea what the outcome was going to be once she started having a seizure. “
“We are glad to have clarity and we are glad to serve Brooke,” said Jennifer Nix the lawyer who represented the school district in this case. “We appreciated that the judge addressed each of our concerns.”
“I’m hopeful that people won’t have to fight this and school districts will do the right thing and allow children to go to school regardless of the medication they are taking,” Rogoway said.
“I never imagined that I would be the one to be fighting for this and having to go through it, but I definitely would do it over again,” Jana Adams said. While cases like these are typically private she thought it was important to tell her family’s story. “We decided to make it public so that we could help others see the benefits and know that, you know, with the ruling, I think it’ll help other school districts know that there shouldn’t be an excuse.”