Pubdate: Sat,  7 Feb 2004
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2004 The Star-Journal Publishing Corp.
Author: Gayle Perez
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


District 70 Has Expelled 29 Students For Drug Violations This School Year,
Compared To Only Two Expulsions For District 60.

We've had a rough first semester," said Greg Keasling, District 70's
director of pupil personnel. "Drugs, by far, are the biggest problem.
Not only are they readily accessible, but there are a lot of kids who
have marijuana just given to them. Kids are sharing it a lot more."

As of Jan. 20, District 70 has expelled 36 students, the same number
it expelled all of the previous school year.

District 60 had 17 expulsions or exclusions (special education
students) through Jan. 27. Last year, there were 30 students expelled
for the year.

Both districts are bracing for an increase in numbers this spring, as
has been the trend the past few years.

"We always have more in the spring because by then you start getting
more of the habitually disruptive students," Keasling said.

Keasling acknowledges that the district's zero tolerance for drugs has
pushed the expulsion rate up.

"We expel on a first offense," he said. "We do not offer involuntary
transfers or suspensions when it comes to drugs and we've made that
very clear to the students."

Keasling said the drug policy is probably the reason District 70
expels more students than District 60.

"I don't think that we have any more of a problem than they do," he
said. "We don't offer a second chance."

Rick Macias, District 60's director of pupil personnel, said students
who are caught in possession of drugs are expelled. But if they are
only discovered under the influence of drugs, they generally have a
three-strike rule: suspended temporarily the first time, transferred
to another school on second offense, and expelled on third offense.

"If we expelled kids on a first offense we would have a lot more,"
Macias said.

Also, Macias said if a student brings drugs to school and distributes
them to other students, only the student who provided the drugs is
expelled. All others would be suspended.

In District 70, Keasling said all students caught with drugs are

In both districts, marijuana is the drug of choice.

Macias said both District 60 expulsions this year were for possession
of marijuana. Keasling said the majority of his district's 29 drug
expulsions were for marijuana, but there also have been students
caught with prescription drugs and one with a narcotic.

Marijuana "seems to be more available and as result more kids are into
using it," Keasling said. "A lot of times the parents don't have any
idea their kid is involved with drugs, mainly because kids are so good
at being discreet about it.

"We also have kids coming to school selling mom and dad's
painkillers," he added. "Today, students have a lot more access to

While drugs are the No. 1 cause for expulsion in District 70,
possession of weapons is the biggest contributor to District 60's

As of Jan. 27, 10 students have been expelled for possessing knives.
This is despite a huge push by the district to inform students about
the consequences of bringing weapons to school.

"For whatever reason, students are still bringing them to school,"
Macias said. "Most said they brought them by accident, and very seldom
do we hear that they brought it to school for self-defense. But
anytime they get caught with a knife (with a blade at least 2 1/2
inches long), they will be expelled."

Macias said the remainder of the expulsions have been three for crimes
of violence, two for drug violations and two for assaults on teachers.

The crime of violence category includes incidents that occur away from

Macias said all the students expelled this year have been males, with
the majority (13) being in middle school. "There's always quite a few
in middle school," he said. "It's a tough time."

In District 70, two students have been expelled for carrying knives;
three students for making threats toward students or staff; one for
putting a foreign substance into another student's drink; and one for
being a habitually disruptive student.

The threats toward other students involved two separate incidents at
Pueblo West High School, where staff members were alerted that
students had "hit lists" naming other students.

Keasling said 25 expelled students were boys and 11 were girls. The
majority (31) were high school students.

Macias and Keasling both credit other students with notifying school
and law enforcement officials about many of the incidents that have
led to expulsions.

They said said the Crimestoppers program as well as the school
resource officers give students an opportunity to report violations
without feeling that they will be retaliated against.

Expelled students from both districts are offered alternative
educational opportunities.

In District 60, they may attend Keating Education Center, while
District 70 students may attend the Futures Academy.

Both districts expel students for either a semester or a year,
depending on the infraction.

In District 60, an expelled student must petition to return to his
home school when the expulsion term is over. In District 70, the
students are automatically admitted back into their high schools.

"We tell students that Futures is not a place for bad kids but it is a
place to regroup, be held accountable for their actions and to
succeed," Keasling said.

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District 60

Year Number
1999-2000 20
2000-2001 38
2001-2002 35
2002-2003 30
2003-2004 17*

*As of January 27, 2004

2003-2004 expulsions by grades levels

6th grade 1 7th grade 3 8th grade 9 9th grade 2 10th grade


Hispanic 11
White 6


Male 17
Female 0

Type of infractions

Weapons offenses 10* Crime of violence 3 Drug violation 2 Assault on a
teacher 2

*All knives


District 70

Year Number
2000-2001 57
2001-2002 35
2002-2003 36
2003-2004 36*

*As of January 20, 2004

2003-2004 expulsions by grade levels

High School 31
Middle School 5




Male 25
Female 11

Type of infractions

Drug violations 29 Weapons 2* Threats, students or staff 3 Foreign
substance in a drink 1 Habitually disruptive student 1

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