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Education Reporter

Connecticut Curbs Promotion of Ritalin
Lenny Winkler
Lenny Winkler
HARTFORD, CT - The Connecticut General Assembly has approved a bill prohibiting educators from recommending psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin for use on school children. (See text below.) The House of Representatives on May 22 approved H.B. 5701 by a vote of 141-0. The bill has also passed the Senate and is awaiting the Governor's signature.

State Rep. Lenny Winkler (R-Groton) introduced the legislation, citing "the dramatic increase in the amount of psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin and Prozac, being prescribed for children in recent years." In announcing the bill's passage, she stated that "these drugs are too often prescribed without a thorough medical and psychological evaluation. This bill will go a long way toward preventing unnecessary use of psychotropic drugs in Connecticut."

An emergency room nurse herself, Winkler expressed horror at the list of mind-altering drugs that are taken by some of the children admitted to the hospital. She pointed out that strong "anecdotal evidence" indicates that recommendations of these drugs to parents by school personnel have contributed to the increase in prescriptions. "Because teachers are held in such high esteem," Winkler noted, "their opinions regarding a student's health are taken seriously."

H.B. 5701 also prohibits a parent's refusal to place a child on psychotropic drugs from becoming grounds for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families to take the child into custody.

The law does allow schools to recommend that a student undergo a thorough medical examination. With the parents' permission, school officials may still consult with doctors about a child's case. "The school system will always play a vital role in a child's well being," Rep. Winkler affirmed. "But it's extremely important that the diagnosis of any medical condition be performed by a medical professional."

Partial Text of H.B. 5701

An Act Concerning Recommendations For
And Refusals Of The Use Of
Psychotropic Drugs By Children. . . .

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Each local and regional board of education shall adopt and implement policies prohibiting any school personnel from recommending the use of psychotropic drugs for any child. The provisions of this section shall not prohibit school medical staff from recommending that a child be evaluated by an appropriate medical practitioner, or prohibit school personnel from consulting with such practitioner with the consent of the parents or guardian of such child.

Section 2. The refusal of a parent or other person having control of a child to administer or consent to the administration of any psychotropic drug to such child shall not, in and of itself, constitute grounds for the Department of Children and Families to take such child into custody or for any court of competent jurisdiction to order that such child be taken into custody by the department, unless such refusal causes such child to be neglected or abused, as defined in section 46b-120 of the general statutes.

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