Pubdate: Sat, 05 Feb 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Shawn O'Leary, Of the NEWS Staff


SULLIVAN - In an effort to clarify Sumner Memorial High School's current 
drug and alcohol policy, school officials have taken a fine-tooth comb to 
the policy's wording, trimming away statements they believe could lead to 
confusion among teachers, parents, students and law enforcement officials.

Sally Leighton, the school's principal, said Friday that the school board 
approved changes to the drug and alcohol policy in December after seeing 
other schools in Hancock and Washington counties struggle with parents and 
students over the exact requirements of their policies. The changes to the 
policy were made, Leighton said, "so that we were clear as to what our 
[policy] did say."

The policy now covers students involved in all extracurricular activities, 
not just athletic teams. And while students had previously signed contracts 
that stipulated they would avoid drugs and alcohol during a particular 
season, they now sign one annual contract that Leighton said covers all 
activity seasons and interim periods.

The revised policy also states that the high school students are 
representatives of their school on and off campus, and their behavior, 
especially when it warrants the attention of law enforcement, will be taken 
into consideration at school. For those who violate the policy, Leighton 
said, a system is in place in which first- and second-time offenders are 
dealt with differently, and a counseling program is mandated for those who 
are caught with drugs and alcohol.

The revised policy also makes it clear that a student who simply abstains 
from using drugs or alcohol while at a party where the substances are 
present isn't an acceptable form of behavior. If a student is in a 
situation where drugs and alcohol are present, and knowingly remains there, 
Leighton said, then the student could be subjected to a disciplinary action.

Leighton said that she and other staff members went from class to class 
explaining the revised policy in detail to every student, and that every 
child was required to take the policy home to their parents to review and sign.

Leighton stressed that the revised policy isn't an attempt to clamp down on 
the students, but rather an effort to prevent any future problems that may 
arise from the drug and alcohol policy. "We're not going to be police or 
principals 24 hours a day." Leighton said.
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