Pubdate: Sat, 29 Jan 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Diana Graettinger, Of the NEWS Staff


CALAIS - Area residents concerned about a drug problem that exists among 
the city's youth are urged to attend a Drug and Alcohol Policy meeting 
scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday night in the multipurpose room at the 
elementary school.

Earlier this month the school committee, faced with a growing concern about 
drug use by children, appointed school committee members Tracy DeWitt and 
Nancy Gillis to form a committee to draft a new drug policy for the city's 
three schools.

The committee will include a cross section of professional and business 
people as well as staff members. Anyone interested in joining the committee 
should attend Monday's meeting, but all residents are encouraged to attend 
to provide input.

The school committee members agreed that the problem isn't restricted to 
high school students and that a schoolwide policy should be developed.

The school department currently has a high school academic policy and a 
high school athletic policy which address drug and alcohol use.

The academic policy included in the student handbook says that any student 
caught smoking or using drugs or alcohol on school property will be 
suspended for 10 days with an automatic expulsion hearing before the school 

The athletic policy states that any athlete who is caught using drugs or 
alcohol will be suspended for two weeks and be required to meet with a 
substance abuse counselor.

DeWitt and Gillis said they believe the meeting Monday night would present 
an excellent opportunity for parents to air their concerns. "We've got to 
be a support system for the families in this community so they can get the 
help that they need", DeWitt said. "We are going to work together in a very 
firm accountable way, but in a very supportive way as well".

There have been suggestions that the school committee adopt a zero 
tolerance policy.

"Doing that doesn't solve anything", DeWitt said. "That just brings the 
hammer down on kids. ... Hopefully the committee will make recommendations 
to the school board so [these policies] can be revised, and we'll have a 
real secure foundation for the staff to work from ... and the students will 
know exactly where they stand".

Gillis said the committee would review the current policies and come up 
with a single policy that would be applicable to all students. She agreed 
with DeWitt that any policy should include a means of helping the students.

"If there is a problem, and it's recognized, we should help them, not just 
throw them out of school", she said. The school committee member said she 
hoped even people who were not interested in serving on the committee would 
attend the meeting and share their concerns.

"This is an information-gathering meeting. We want to hear what the public 
has to say", Gillis said.

DeWitt said the committee would have an open-door policy and everyone is 
welcome to attend meetings or join the committee after it is formed.
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