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Should Schools Have a Medical Marijuana Policy?

Schools in Colorado have an unusual mandate that may be coming to your state soon. They have been ordered to formulate policies allowing medical marijuana possession by students who use cannabis to treat illness.

The law applies only to non-smoked marijuana, so it's not like the Colorado schoolyards will be packed with blunt-puffing kids. It is intended to protect children with serious illnesses who rely on cannabis and, before the passage of this law, were technically violating policy by consuming it in school.

We want our kids to get the best education possible, and to be nurtured and safe while they're in school. So how do schools balance the educational, interpersonal, and safety concerns of their students, while also taking into account their legal rights and Constitutional protections?

Here's what you need to know about a student's rights in school, and what to do when legal issues arise on campus.

The phrase "white privilege" comes with the same kind of contextual and cultural baggage as the phrases "gun control" or "First Amendment" at this point. And it's also becoming the same kind of conversational third rail on social media. But some people are tackling not just white privilege, but gender, religious, and class privilege in some very important contexts: teachers are talking to their students about privilege.

And now that phrase is starting to come with the same legal baggage as those other two. A Florida middle school teacher was suspended after giving her students a questionnaire on gender, sexual identity, and religion as part of a lesson on privilege. So when and how can you talk to your students about privilege, and what can you do or say about it?

Teachers Challenge Law Barring Sex With Teen Students

School employees in Alabama are barred by statute from having sex with students under 19. That law is being challenged as unconstitutional for criminalizing otherwise sanctioned behavior, according to the Decatur Daily.

Carrie Cabri Witt, 42, a teacher accused of sleeping with two male students, both 17, moved to dismiss criminal charges against her based on that law. The age of consent in Alabama is 16, so aside from the school employee rule, the relationship would have been cool, legally speaking at least.

Last Friday, thousands of teachers took to the Chicago streets, demanding a new contract and an overhaul of the city's school funding system. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner called the strike illegal, while Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis accused Rauner of trying to destroy the city's schools.

The strike only lasted a day, but affected some 400 students, highlighting the unique impacts of teacher strikes and the legal rules and agreements that govern them.

A Teacher's To-Do When Threatened or Assaulted by a Student

You are a teacher. Every day you stand before young people and try to prepare them for the world. But you were not prepared to come to work one day and face an assault or attack.

Unfortunately, teachers are threatened and assaulted at work all around the country with some regularity. Let's take a look at what rights teachers have when a student attacks or assaults them.

While getting a school loan is fairly simple, paying off that loan is another matter entirely. And discharging the loan through bankruptcy? That's rarer than a unicorn.

Or so we thought. While the prevailing wisdom has been that you are stuck with federal student loans until you pay them off, some new cases might be indicating there are ways out for debtors that can't afford their student loans. One such exit is the often overlooked "borrower defense" provision. Does it apply to you?

Are Schools Using Student Privacy Laws to Cover up Crimes?

Laws that protect student privacy can also harm efforts to discover and investigate campus crimes. And they may be abused by schools to shield themselves, rather than students. Preferring to keep statistics about sexual assaults undercover, some schools may be relying on student privacy laws to keep campus scandals hushed.

A recent editorial in The New York Times asks how much a university should have to reveal about sexual-assault cases, and whether schools are using student privacy laws as a means of covering up sexual crimes on campus. Let's examine the contentions.

Texas Law Puts Cameras in Special Needs Classrooms

A new Texas law will require cameras in classrooms with special education students and teachers after an investigation revealed questionable practices in some schools, according to a report from National Public Radio.

Last year, a video of an 8-year-old autistic child held captive on the floor in a "calm room" resembling a closet -- over his protests -- was publicized. It prompted parents of special education students to demand cameras in classrooms across the state. The Texas law is the first of its kind in the country but it may be the beginning of a new trend in teaching, given the rise of cameras in policing.

Teachers don't just impart knowledge to students. They keep children and teenagers safe. And sometimes that means recognizing and reporting signs of abuse.

Not only can teachers be the first to spot signs of child abuse, they are often legally required to report abuse to law enforcement.