Pubdate: Fri, 08 Dec 2017
Source: Penticton Western (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Penticton Western
Author: Tara Bowie


Like all parents, Nadine Remington wants to know her nine-year-old son
is safe while on school property.

But, the increasing problem of drug use on school property after hours
is heightening fears for her and other parents.

Earlier this week, Remington was told by her son who is in Grade 4 at
Queen's Park School that people were living in a shed on the school's
property and that he had seen a needle and matches nearby.

After a similar experience of the boy finding drug paraphernalia at
KVR Middle School while at camp this summer, she took his claims
seriously and headed out to the school to see it herself. Remington
and her husband didn't find anyone in the shed, but there was evidence
suggesting someone was living in it recently and a needle on the
ground at the door.

"There was stuff everywhere. There were needles in there. There were
candles. There was garbage. It was handy because there are gym matts
in there, so they had a nice soft place to sleep. It looked like they
were living in there for quite some time," she said during a phone
interview Wednesday.

Remington said she contacted the school who told her although the shed
was on school property it was being rented out. She contacted the
group said to be renting it, but was told she should contact the
school board because it was their property. She said she contacted
police who said they couldn't help her get it cleaned up. She was
advised to call bylaw but she thought that would be a waste of time.

While Remington continued to go through channels, another parent
posted pictures of the shed in a Facebook group on Wednesday. Someone
on staff at School Board 67 (Okangan Skaha) also saw the pictures and
staff jumped into action. The board immediately sent a crew to the
school to clean up the shed and made plans to have it removed.

"I'm happy the school board acted right away. It's the fact that I had
to go through all that and what if a child was stuck with a needle
during this," Remington said.

She went through a similar experience this summer when her son was at
a camp at KVR Middle School.

"He said there was some bad stuff at the school. There were kits to
cook up heroin. There were tourniquets, no needles there. Someone had
went and cleaned it up by the time we heard about it.

"It's frustrating. We already have to watch when they're playing in
the park … My son comes home and says there's lighters and needles and
matches at the school. No nine-year-old needs to know about this," she

Wendy Hyer, superintendent for the school board, said she is aware
there are problems with people using illicit drugs after hours on
several school properties in Penticton. She said the board has
identified KVR, Pen High and Queen's Park as hot spots for finding
drug paraphernalia.

For some time, principals and custodians have been tasked with doing
sweeps of all school properties.If they find something, staff has been
trained to dispose of material appropriately. Students have also been
educated on what to do if they find drug paraphernalia, she said.

In the issue of the shed at Queen's Park, she noted that it's location
on the property often confuses staff as to whether it is actually on
school property and that it must have been missed in the walk arounds.

"The shed is going to be removed. As soon as we knew about it (at the
board) we acted on it. Safety is our main priority," she said.

Hyer said the school board has asked the police to do additional
patrols around KVR, Pen High and Queen's Park especially after hours
in hopes of deterring people from taking part in drug use on school
grounds. She said at this point she was not aware if additional
patrols were being done and said she understand that police resources
are tight.

"We want schools to be safe but we also need to be supporting folks
who have mental health and substance abuse problems. It's not about
moving the problem. It's about figuring out some effective ways of
supporting folks and helping with the problem. It takes a community to
do that."

Several calls to a Penticton RCMP spokesperson were not returned by
the time this article was published.
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