Pubdate: Sun, 04 Oct 2015
Source: News Herald (Willoughby, OH)
Copyright: 2015 The News-Herald


Although school districts have a primary mission of educating 
students, district leaders also need to monitor social trends and 
issues that can affect the atmosphere and learning environment in schools.

That's why we found it interesting to read the first story in a 
three-part series by The News-Herald looking at how area school 
districts go about drawing up policies that regulate personal and 
social behavior.

Part one of the series dealt with prevention, intervention and 
testing for drugs and alcohol in schools.

The Mentor School District's efforts to prevent illegal drug use and 
underage drinking by students have included random K-9 sweeps as well 
as Breathalzyers at school dances and extracurricular events.

However, teaching students the benefits of being drug-free is how the 
district focuses its enforcement on a zero-tolerance policy, said 
Kristen Kirby, director of community relations.

"Lessons in making good choices and maintaining a drug- and 
alcohol-free lifestyle are shared in our health classes, advisory 
periods as well as other appropriate opportunities," she said. "We 
partnered with the governor's office to become a part of the Start 
Talking initiative at the middle school level promoting a drug-free 
lifestyle. Our extracurricular advisers and coaches also share the 
anti-drug message with their students."

While the Wickliffe School District will suspend students for 
violating drug and alcohol rules, Superintendent Joseph Spiccia wants 
to put greater emphasis on prevention and intervention, before the 
problem reaches a level of dependence or addiction.

"Most kids are experimenting and doing what kids do, and it's not 
something we accept, but it's what kids do," he said. "But the 
appropriate intervention is to provide support for kids with what 
they need," he said.

Those area school districts that are considering drug tests for 
students will no doubt be watching what happens this year in the Avon 
School District. The district in Lorain County implemented a policy 
to conduct random drug tests on students.

Avon students participating in athletics or extracurricular 
activities, as well as students who drive to school, are subject to 
the random testing, while all students in seventh through 12th grades 
are subject to probable cause drug testing. Students who drive or 
participate in extracurricular activities are required to sign drug 
testing consent forms in order to maintain their privileges, and 
parents or legal guardians also must provide consent.

Spiccia, when asked for his thoughts on drug testing for students, 
said he needs more evidence of prevention and that it works in schools.

We like the fact that school districts like Mentor and Wickliffe are 
taking a multi-pronged approach to addressing drug and alcohol use by students.

Prevention is critical to ensure that children never use illegal 
drugs in the first place. Knowing how to resist peer pressure, being 
able to identify drugs that other youngsters might urge them to try, 
and believing that a drug-free lifestyle can be fun and fulfilling 
are all important lessons for kids to learn alongside traditional academics.

Intervention is needed so students who already have a drug or alcohol 
problem can get off the road to addiction and self-destruction and 
pursue a new path to a healthy life.

Finally, random drug testing programs perhaps could be a deterrent 
for kids who otherwise might use illegal drugs or alcohol. Or, for 
those kids who think they're untouchable, maybe getting caught would 
be a blessing in disguise.

We encourage area school districts to stay vigilant in their attempts 
to keep students drug and alcohol free. Our kids are worth the effort.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom