Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Pubdate: 4 Mar 1999
Copyright: 1999, New Haven Register
Author: Robert Storace


ANSONIA - Three Ansonia High School students were suspended for up to one
year this week for smoking marijuana on school grounds, but not before each
student apologized to the Board of Education.

Superintendent of Schools Douglas Rudig said the three teen-age boys would
be allowed to return to classes April 26 if they acted properly in the
school's alternative education program.

"They were very remorseful," Rudig said of the three students who were at
the private expulsion hearing Tuesday at school board headquarters. "Any
use of illegal substances is a very serious issue. But, more importantly it
effects students' health, safety and their own future."

While it is important to punish the students involved Rudig said, "the
bigger message is the future of the students. When students make a mistake,
we need to deal with that directly. We also need to help them rectify the
mistake, learn from it and take responsibility for it in the future."

That is why, Rudig said, the students would be allowed to return to regular
classes if they complete the alternative education program. The school
district pays for the program, which is housed in a small building on
school grounds. The program teaches, along with others, students who are
expelled by the school district.

Rudig did stress that the alleged violation did not involve the sale of
marijuana, only its use by those allegedly involved. A police investigation
found no basis for arrests and turned the case over the school district. 

The number of school expulsions has declined dramatically this year due in
part to the district's zero-tolerance policy toward drugs, alcohol and
weapons, school officials said. This week's expulsions were the second time
students were expelled this school year. In December, a Middle School
student was expelled for a violent incident on school grounds.

"We have had fewer and fewer expulsions in recent years," said Board of
Education Chairman Beverly Tidmarsh, who said part of the decrease is due
to more of an awareness among young people.

"Students understand more of what the rules are," Tidmarsh said. "Board
members spent a lot of time at the high school level recently explaining
disciplinary policy and what the consequences would be. The discussions
made them more aware."

There were six expulsion hearings during the 1997-98 school year. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Mike Gogulski