Pubdate: Sun, 24 Mar 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily


Athens school officials are working against themselves in trying to control 
drugs, when they refuse to reconsider a policy that divulges the names of 
tipsters to those confronted for drug use.

The parents of an Athens Middle School student complained to the school 
board last week that they had received threats because their child informed 
on a suspected marijuana user. The parents say that Principal Joe Jackson 
and a police officer promised their child that his identity would be 
confidential if he shared information about the marijuana.

Superintendent James Irby acknowledged that he showed witness statements to 
the father of one of the students accused.

"We are appalled that such a policy exists that would be so inconsiderate 
for the safeguard of the students involved," wrote the parents in a letter 
to the school board.

Such a policy of revealing the tipster's name runs directly counter to 
everything students learn in school and the City Council-sponsored Drug 
Abuse Resistance Education program that most students are exposed to in the 
fifth grade.

D.A.R.E. makes an impression on youngsters. In at least one case, a student 
turned in his pot-smoking parents.

Athens' counter-productive policy kills the messenger. If no one complains, 
then the problem doesn't exist. It may make the job temporarily easier in 
the short run, but it's courting trouble long term.

But Mr. Irby maintains that the policy is "solid" and "I'm not looking to 
change it."

The policy puts a chilling effect on anyone coming forward on any taboo 
activity, be it pot possession or potential school violence. It should be 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth