Pubdate: Mon, 22 Nov 2004
Source: Oak Ridger (TN)
Copyright: 2004 The Oak Ridger
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


NASHVILLE - Tennessee students committed a record number of drug
offenses last year, leaving officials at a loss to explain the
increase. The number of offenses for using, selling or carrying drugs
in schools across the state went up 502 cases, to 2,793 in the
2003-2004 school year.

Drug offenses made up 67 percent of the 4,196 zero-tolerance offenses,
which are serious enough to warrant expulsion or transfer to an
alternative school.

"We had a pretty significant increase in drug offenses last year,"
said Mike Herrmann, director of school safety for the state Department
of Education.

State officials couldn't explain the increase, but pointed out that
many schools have cracked down on drug usage with more security
personnel and other crime fighting tools.

"We're very serious about drug activities in schools. They are a
catalyst for other activities that affect learning for everybody,"
said Woody McMillin, spokesman for Metro schools. "It also imports
into schools other problems, particularly crime."

Officials said the most common drugs are marijuana and prescription
and other pills. Harder drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, rarely show

"Students are aware that we consciously are looking. We're looking for
things that would tip us off to drug use," said Ivan Duggin, principal
of Holloway High in Rutherford County. "We do have noses. There are
some things we can smell."

The number of drug offenses statewide appeared to be going down
slightly until last year, when they shot up.

They had dropped from 2,345 in 2000-01 to 2,291 in 2002-03.

The schools reported that, following drugs, the most common was
students using or carrying a weapon other than a gun followed by
battery of a teacher or staff member.

Using or carrying a gun has remained the smallest category, making up
just 2 percent of the incidents reported in each of the past four years.

Decreases were seen in offenses for threats of violence, and sexual
battery and harassment - which dropped from 42 cases four years ago to
14 last year. Males were three times more likely to commit serious
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin