Archive for Wednesday, March 15, 2000

School board tackles drug, alcohol use by students

March 15, 2000

Baldwin has a drug and alcohol problem, according to Supt. James White, and he is seeking all the help he can get to change that.

What began as a policy discussion on how drug and alcohol offenders are disciplined turned into a pro-active discussion about how the district can prevent students from using drugs in the first place.

"There is far too much drug and alcohol use, by high school students in particular," White said. "I think it is a big time issue for us. We have to work on it."

Board members agreed that an educational approach to the dangers of drug and alcohol use is the direction that needs to be taken. The district's drug policy was revised less than two years ago, with input from district staff, community members and attorneys.

"I don't think we can tweak the policy enough to fix the problem," said board member Chris Ogle.

Board members requested school resource officer Mike Gammage attend the April 10 board meeting to discuss classroom education and bringing in area resources on the subject of drug use. They also suggested a revival of the Baldwin High School site council, seeking input from parents and community members.

"We need to educate students and parents about the dangers of alcohol and drug use," White said. "We have to get the message across that drugs are dangerous and against the law. We cannot tolerate student use at any level. I don't think we should turn our backs on it and say it doesn't happen."

Drug education in the district begins at the elementary level with the DARE program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), and followed by several programs at BJHS and BHS, White said.

"Evidently not effectively," White said of drug education in the district.

White said drug and alcohol use was a problem, but not as much of one, in Oskaloosa where he was superintendent prior to coming to Baldwin last summer.

"It seems like it may be a little worse here," White said of Baldwin. "I think we have an epidemic with marijuana in this district."

White said district students are disciplined for drug and alcohol use at school and at school activities.

"It's a much larger problem than what is taking place at school," he said. "I believe we have to involve more community and parents. Key people need to recognize that we do have a problem."

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