Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2006

BHS drug usage draws probe

September 21, 2006

As the dust starts to settle regarding the alleged illegal usage of prescription drugs by Baldwin High School students, at least one thing has become clear. Such behavior will not be tolerated, both police and school officials say.

"The people that are involved in these activities at the school or near school property, will have to answer for their activities," said Mike McKenna, Baldwin City police chief. "We have a zero tolerance for drug and alcohol use. It hasn't changed and it won't change.

"If you're active in drug activity, we will find you and we will see that charges are brought against the individual or individuals," said McKenna.

Supt. Paul Dorathy assigned Bob Bezek, school district attorney, as spokesman for all information regarding the alleged use of illegally obtained drugs prior to the Sept. 8 game at Paola.

"The administration at the high school has received allegations of violation of the law and school policy," said Bezek. "An investigation was immediately initiated and, as to most of the allegations, has concluded. The administration has also worked in close cooperation with the Baldwin Police Department.

"The allegations in this investigations are serious and the administration has taken appropriate and serious action as a result of the investigation," he said. "All of the patrons of the school district should also understand that the content of the investigation and the actions of the administration are confidential and cannot be disclosed to the public."

Neither McKenna nor Bezek would reveal details regarding the number of students involved. McKenna did say that the information from the investigation will go to the Douglas County Attorney to determine what charges might be made.

"I'm probably going to go up (Wednesday) and discuss it with the district attorney," said McKenna. "I'll have to confirm it with him before saying anything."

The players allegedly took an Attention Deficit Hyper Active drug two hours before the game. Rumors have swirled around Baldwin since the situation came to light last Thursday. McKenna and Bezek remain closed lipped regarding the specifics, but it is believed that less than 10 players were involved. BHS lost the game 39-14.

When the alleged use came to light over the following weekend, an investigation was launched Sept. 11 by school district and police officials. Interviews were conducted throughout the week. On Sept. 14, at least five members of the team quit.

On Friday, with the seventh-annual Bulldog Bash, a community-wide fund raiser for the district prior to the first home game of the season, the BHS players put the allegations behind them, used the Bash for inspiration and recorded its first win of the season, 35-0? over Prairie View. Head coach Mike Berg is trying to make the most of the situation.

"I don't know if anybody has put it behind them," said Berg regarding the allegations. "The pre-game speech was really short. It was, 'guys, go out and have fun. This is the time where you play for yourself, teammates, school and our community.

"We are taking things one day at a time," he said. "We are trying to get the kids to come together as a team through all of this. It's a support system within the team and that's all I can ask for right now."

Berg said it has been a difficult time for him and his team. The investigation has been difficult, too, according to McKenna.

"It's troubling when you're conducting an investigation of this nature and parents make the decision to keep you front interviewing the child, as well as keeping the school from interviewing the child," said McKenna. "I personally don't feel that's healthy for the child don't think it's a good precedent for the parent to set when a child is in this type of situation."

Although neither the school district nor police will reveal details, the distribution of such drugs could bring strong charges and penalties if convictions result.

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