Pensacola News Journal _FL_ 1/1/1997 - 31/12/2018
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61US FL: Editorial: Drug Policy Is Due For A Review By BoardThu, 24 Oct 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:10/24/2002

It is encouraging to see the Escambia County School Board looking at ways to amend the zero-tolerance policy on drugs. Finding ways to bring the use of judgment back into the mix is welcome.

The new proposal by board member Gary Bergosh is certainly worth considering. He would put a "safe harbor" provision into the policy. Basically, it would protect students from expulsion if they voluntarily turn drugs over to school officials.

If nothing else, it gives students who might have been caught up in a situation not of their own making a place to turn. And while we expect that such situations would be few and far between, it also opens up avenues for students who might be guilty of bad judgment and who are looking for a way out.

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62US FL: OPED: School District`S Zero-Tolerance Drug Policy WorksThu, 24 Oct 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Williams, David Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:10/24/2002

Having been a member of the Escambia County School District committee that recommended the expulsion of the two young ladies at Pensacola High School that "found" and "held" the pills, I find it interesting that the zero-tolerance policy has once again been attacked by the media and other concerned citizens.

In my mind, zero tolerance had little to do with this case. That is because, I believe, most citizens would agree that any student who brings a combination of pills to school that could be dangerous or even possibly lethal should be expelled.

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63US FL: School Board Reconsiders Drug PolicyTue, 22 Oct 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:LaCoste, Jenny Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:10/23/2002

Students Might Find `Safe Harbor` From Zero Tolerance

The Escambia County School Board wants to revamp its zero tolerance policy on drugs, giving students a way out if they find themselves with drugs on campus.

Board member Gary Bergosh suggested adding a "safe harbor" policy to the School District's Rights and Responsibilities handbook that stipulates students can turn in drugs to a faculty member without fear of expulsion.

"It would basically say if someone found drugs or realized they brought a prescription drug with them to school, they could turn it in to the administration or a teacher and automatic expulsion would not apply," he said.

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64US FL: Editorial: Expulsion Decision Is the Right CallTue, 01 Oct 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:10/01/2002

The decision by a hearing officer to reject "zero tolerance" expulsions for two Escambia County students was absolutely correct.

The students, enmeshed in a confusing series of events surrounding a bag of pills found on the Pensacola High School campus, were facing a penalty far beyond the seriousness of the matter.

Clearly, the School Board needs to take a long and serious look at its zero tolerance policy with an eye to revising it with some common-sense safeguards.

The hearing officer, local attorney John Allbritton, nailed the matter in his written order:

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65 US FL: LTE: Drug Abuser Teaching My Child? No ThanksThu, 26 Sep 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Sweeney, Barbara Area:Florida Lines:35 Added:09/28/2002

What's the big deal? Most people would be fired for reporting to work high. Why are teachers different?

I have interacted with dozens of addicts, both active and recovering. Like cancer, addiction is a progressive disease. However, addicts choose this illness when they take the first drug. Addiction is a mental illness, but even schizophrenia is treated more successfully. Most addicts relapse often.

Like pedophilia, addiction has no foolproof treatment. Would anyone tolerate a pedophile teaching their children?

Addicts are a threat to others. They are among the most dangerous people, and can be violent, erratic and paranoid even when sober.

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66 US FL: PUB LTE: Zero Tolerance Equals Zero Thinking InWed, 25 Sep 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Daley, Helen A. Area:Florida Lines:37 Added:09/25/2002

I'm ashamed of the Escambia School District and board. Yes, the teacher who used cocaine committed an inexcusable act, but this situation should have been handled privately and within the law. Instead, I have watched the superintendent and board misuse the media to whip up a frenzy and humiliate a man.

Someone had to tell the News Journal whose personnel file to request. Someone had to call all those media outlets to tell them every time a hearing was scheduled. Someone had to decide that he himself was without sin and was entitled to cast the first stone - privately, publicly and on national TV.

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67US FL: Editorial: Rigid Drug Policy Freezes Out ReasonFri, 20 Sep 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:09/20/2002

The sad case of a 15-year-old Pensacola High School honor student, caught up in a mess over a bag of pills that now threatens her college future, speaks volumes of the errors of an iron-clad "zero tolerance" drug policy.

And the pending expulsion of Teresa Elenz appears to be one such error.

So far as we can tell, no one challenges Elenz`s story: that she discovered a bag of pills on the PHS campus, picked them up out of curiosity and then, well aware of the penalties for drugs at school, panicked. She hesitated to put them down again or toss them in a wastebasket for fear of being seen. She decided against turning them in to a teacher, again fearing the consequences of possession.

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68US FL: Drug Policy For Teachers To Get TougherThu, 19 Sep 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:09/20/2002

Contract Still To Give Staffers Second Chance

The name Robbie Sites will haunt the Escambia County School Board for a long time to come.

The teacher who reported to work high on cocaine and then won the right to keep his job made national news and frustrated the School Board and Superintendent Jim Paul. Board Chairman John DeWitt and Paul said they should have the right to terminate Sites for his action.

But, according to his contract, they did not.

Although Sites resigned after winning in court, board members want to make sure they're not in that situation again.

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69 US FL: 2 PUB LTE: Scare Tactics Hurt & The Government's JobWed, 04 Sep 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Sharpe, Robert Area:Florida Lines:69 Added:09/06/2002

The News Journal's Aug. 13 editorial offered excellent advice on preventing adolescent drug use. The importance of parental involvement in reducing drug use cannot be overstated. School-based extracurricular activities have also been shown to prevent drug use. They keep kids busy during the hours they're most prone togetting into trouble.

In order for drug education to be effective it has to be credible. The most popular recreational drug and the one most closely associated with violent behavior is often overlooked by parents. That drug is alcohol, and ittakes far more lives every year than all illegal drugs combined. Alcohol may belegal, but it's still the number one drug problem.

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70 US FL: LTE: Teachers Must At Least Live Up To Rules Imposed OnFri, 30 Aug 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Flocken, Chris Area:Florida Lines:28 Added:08/31/2002

I am aghast that there is even a chance that any teacher that shows up to work under the influence can get their job back. I am even more perplexed they think they are entitled to that job.

I realize that during the Clinton years this type of misconduct became not only expected, but rather chic. Get over it, the Clinton years are over. In a day when a student can and will be expelled for a pair of nail clippers or an aspirin, I would expect all in the profession of teaching, including the teachers union, to set an even higher standard for themselves.

Belonging to a union - or is it a club? - does not give anyone the right for misconduct and to expect a second chance. By the way, cocaine use is still illegal the last I looked! -


71 US FL: LTE: Teacher On Cocaine Has An Illness and Should NotThu, 29 Aug 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Moon, Robert Area:Florida Lines:32 Added:08/30/2002

It's unfortunate the school principal wants to continue discriminating against the teacher that tested positive for cocaine. Drug abuse is an illness and the teacher should be treated as such.

Society, especially the school system, has become extremely tolerant of all types of people, such as gays and transgendered. But they continue to discriminate against people who suffer from drug dependency. This teacher should be allowed to remain in his teaching position provided he attends the mandated counseling and treatment.

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72 US FL: PUB LTE: An OutrageThu, 22 Aug 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Sims, Rev. Pam Area:Florida Lines:24 Added:08/25/2002

When I read anything more ridiculous than Noelle Bush getting tested negative for the prescription drug Xanax and being jailed for just having it in her purse, I'd like to hear it.

A lady I used to know took Xanax along with six other medications daily. What an outrage!

REV. PAM SIMS, Pensacola


73US FL: Column: Adults Can Help Maintain Drop In Youth DrugFri, 16 Aug 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Iturralde, Deborah Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:08/16/2002

The recent reports that youth substance abuse has decreased is exciting news for Northwest Florida. This decrease reflects the efforts of parents, teachers, law enforcement and many local organizations. While this is good news, we must not see it as an indication that we can stop our prevention efforts.

For several drugs including tobacco, Northwest Florida youth report higher incidents of abuse than our state averages. For example, while Florida lifetime incidents of marijuana use by youth is 37 percent, the Escambia County rate is 42 percent.

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74US FL: Editorial: School Drug Case Shows Need To ChangeThu, 08 Aug 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:08/15/2002

There's no reason to criticize Circuit Judge Nickolas Geeker for his ruling that the Escambia County School Board must rehire a teacher who was fired for testing positive for cocaine on the job. A judge's job is to follow the law, and that appears to be just what Geeker did.

If the situation is to be changed, it must come in the contract negotiated between the School District and the teachers' union. The current contract calls for all discipline to be progressive. While that makes sense for lesser problems, it doesn't seem to make any distinction for dealing with serious offenses.

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75US FL: Editorial: School Drug Policy Needs Some TeethThu, 15 Aug 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:08/15/2002

Escambia School District and teachers unions officials are taking the right step in coming together to rework contract language that left the district unable to fire a teacher who came to school high on cocaine.

Under the current contract, in the absence of criminal charges the specific question of a teacher testing positive for drugs is not spelled out. So it is handled under contract language calling for progressive discipline for employees who err in some other way, such as abusing alcohol.

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76US FL: Editorial: Drugs Will Come and Go, But Parents CanTue, 13 Aug 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:08/15/2002

The new "designer" drugs reaching the streets of Northwest Florida are more than just a headache for law enforcement. They reinforce the need to utilize the most potent weapon in the anti-drug arsenal.


Many of us have heard the radio commercials touting parents as the "anti-drug." Research supports that. Contrary to what many might believe, children do listen to mom and dad. If they deliver an honest, informed anti-drug message, their children will listen.

More, mothers and fathers can influence their children`s behavior by paying attention and by exerting needed control. Parents can have a positive impact by:

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77 US FL: PUB LTE: Test Them AllTue, 23 Jul 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Jones, William O. Area:Florida Lines:31 Added:07/23/2002

RE: Random drug testing on students. The target: the students who participate in after-school activities.

Is it not probable that these students as a whole have higher grades than the total student body?

Why not random drug test the following?: The President of the United states and all his staff; Congress and all their staff; the Cabinet and all their staff; all governors and all their staffs; the Senate and House and all the legislatures of the states and all of their staffs; all county commissioners and their staffs; all school system employees, including the school superintendent, school board and teachers; all city council persons and their staffs; all law state, local and federal enforcement.

Big question: Will the local school systems, Santa Rosa and Escambia, accept the federal bribes to violate the Fourth Amendment of high-school students? - William O. Jones, Jay


78US FL: Editorial: Adults Can Help Curb Drug Use Among TeensMon, 22 Jul 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL)          Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:07/22/2002

The latest report that drug and alcohol abuse are at their lowest levels in a decade is cause for celebration and points to the influence that parents and adults can have on young people.

The survey clearly points out that young people are heeding warnings from their parents and other adults about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, and the outcome is bringing positive results.

The findings in the survey, conducted at schools contracted with Pride Surveys to question students during the 2001-02 academic year, reinforce the long-standing belief that parental influence plays an integral role in the choices their children make.

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79 US FL: PUB LTE: Ending Prohibition On Hemp Plant Would HurtWed, 10 Jul 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Handley, Tim Area:Florida Lines:40 Added:07/11/2002

The movement to end the prohibition of a plant called hemp is turning a blind eye to the negative consequences. An end to this prohibition would hurt big business!

The timber industry would be hurt because you get 4.1 times the wood pulp from an acre of hemp compared to an acre of timber. It takes one-sixth the chemicals to process hemp into paper as compared to timber.

The fossil fuel industry could vanish. Because the hemp plant is one of the most efficient with photosynthesis, it produces potent biomass products (methanol for fuel cells) which would reduce our need for petroleum.

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80 US FL: PUB LTE: Drug Tests A WasteSat, 06 Jul 2002
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Sharpe, Robert Area:Florida Lines:40 Added:07/06/2002

Re "High court's drug ruling won't affect local schools," June 28: Escambia County School Superintendent Jim Paul and Santa Rosa County Superintendent John Rogers have good reason to question the value of student drug testing. Student involvement in extracurricular activities like sports has been shown to reduce drug use. They keep kids busy during the hours they are most likely to get into trouble. Forcing students to undergo degrading urine tests as a prerequisite will only discourage such activities.

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