Archive for Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Lawrence district shares drug/alcohol experience

April 12, 2000

School board members learned how the Lawrence school district approached community and parental concern about student alcohol and drug use Monday night.

Cynthia Trarbach and Diane Ash, drug and alcohol prevention specialists for the Lawrence school district, discussed how a community task force started in 1991 created drug and alcohol discussion, programs and eventually two positions in the district for prevention specialists.

"It's our belief it is a community problem the family is a piece of that, the school is a piece of that," said Trarbach.

Ash said the task force came up with ideas for programs in the school, but what most programs needed was a person. At first, one person was hired for five hours a week, then 10 hours. The district now has two, full-time specialists, who will be joined by a third specialist in the fall for the junior high level.

"Grants have been a big help," Ash said of the funding of the positions.

The district has also revised its policy for drug and alcohol violations. The student is given a choice of a three-day suspension, or a one-day suspension and a 3-hour drug assessment paid for by the district.

"It is such a sensitive area," Ash said. "When a parent finds themselves dealing with this problem, we needed to hook this parent up to the best counseling system we could.

"We will even OK a parent to go ahead and get an assessment before their child gets in trouble because we feel it is so important. We make it easier for them to get help."

Mike Gammage, Baldwin school resource officer, also gave a short presentation at Monday night's board meeting. He told board members about fatal vision goggles that when worn simulate being under the influence of alcohol. The goggles will be incorporated into his curriculum. He also told the board he attends school functions, such as dances, with a portable breath tester. He said the main reason for the breath tester is for the medical safety of students.

"It's not to make criminals out of kids who make mistakes," Gammage said. "I don't want any dead kids, that's my goal"

Gammage said students have contacted him about forming a SADD chapter at Baldwin High School. He is awaiting information from the organization that once targeted drunk driving and now stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions.

In an initiative to address student drug and alcohol use in Baldwin, a community meeting was held March 29 and more meetings are planned. The next meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. April 19 at Baldwin Junior High School. James Barnett will discuss beer keg registration.

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