Pubdate: Thu, 06 Mar 2008
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Windsor Star
Author: Ellwood Shreve, Chatham Daily News
Bookmark: (Youth)


Cocaine, Prescription Drugs, Marijuana Involved

TILBURY - A police officer is shocked that some students at Tilbury 
Area public school have been allegedly caught with cocaine, 
prescription drugs and marijuana.

"When I read the reports, I thought: 'I can't believe this,' " said 
Chatham-Kent police Sgt. Gabe Tetrault, who oversees policing the Tilbury area.

He said there were three Grade 8 students from the elementary school 
charged with drug offences in the same week in mid-February.

"That's really disconcerting, in all honesty," he said.

Their identities are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Tetrault said drugs are a problem in high schools, "but to think you 
are actually in elementary schools now, that's a really sad day."

A parent whose children attend the school is slamming school 
officials about the flow of information regarding the incident.

Christine Davies said she only recently learned the details of the 
Feb. 15 incident when she read the school's March 2008 newsletter.

"I am so angry that it took over two weeks for a formal letter to go 
out to parents," said Davies, who has a daughter in Grade 5 and a son 
in junior kindergarten.

"I was shocked when I received the letter," she said. "Parents need 
to be aware and act now. We are losing these students at Tilbury 
public school."

School principal Ken Gregory confirmed "we did have an occurrence 
like that" when contacted by The Chatham Daily News.

Noting he could not discuss the details, Gregory said, "it was an 
isolated incident," adding it didn't occur on school property.

Gregory said he debated on whether to send home a note before the 
newsletter was issued, but was concerned it might cause parents to 
become paranoid.

According to the school's newsletter, five students had "engaged in 
inappropriate behaviour at break time in a nearby park." This 
resulted in two students being charged with possession and five 
students being suspended from school.

After the school received information about what went on at the park, 
the newsletter states, a few locker searches were conducted and some 
illegal substances were seized.

Another student was charged in a separate incident.

Gregory said the school has been urging parents to not allow their 
children to leave school during the two nutritional breaks.

"When they stay at school, they are under our supervision and we know 
they are being looked after," he said.

Gregory said the five students involved in this incident all had 
permission to be off school property. He noted that has since 
changed, adding, "their parents were very upset."

When students leave school property during breaks, Gregory said 
instead of going home they could go to a park, meet up with older 
kids, or go to someone's home where there may not be any supervision.

"That's when kids can get into trouble."

Tetrault said police support the school's efforts to have students 
remain on the property at all times during the day.

He noted after the incidents, police made an anti-drug presentation 
to students at the school. He added the officers involved in the 
incidents met with the parents "to make sure they know what's going 
on." The sergeant said Tuesday there are no other drug incidents he's 
aware of at the school. He noted police are making their presence 
known in and around the school, particularly at break times.

Gregory said there were a lot of concerns expressed by parents after 
the incident. But when the situation was explained, he said, "I think 
it calmed the waters."

Despite the negative publicity this is sure to generate, Gregory said 
there are a lot of good kids at the school.
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