HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html School Drug Free Zones Not Working
Pubdate: Fri, 29 Oct 2004
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author: Holly Miyasaki
Bookmark: (Drug-Free Zones)


Frustrated with the ineffectiveness of drug free zones at schools, the
school district is piloting a new program to counsel youths caught for
the first time with marijuana.

School district superintendent Ron Rubadeau implied it's a last

"We're perhaps only grasping at straws," he said after Wednesday
night's District 23 school board meeting.

He added previous student programs, including the drug free zones
sanctioned by the school district, have failed, Rubadeau said.

He said lack of community will, political will and changes in thinking
in particular have caused the downfall of the drug free zone program.

While those zones will remain in place, regardless of the program's
efficiency, the district is searching for other solutions to help
treat drug use, Rubadeau said.

A group of constituents from Okanagan University College's PATH
research group, Kelowna RCMP and ARC Programs Ltd. presented a pilot
program to the school board Wednesday.

While the program, Adolescent Intervention for Marijuana Suspension,
is considered an enhancement to the disciplinary process, it has yet
to be put to use.

The three target schools, Kelowna senior secondary, KLO middle and
Okanagan Mission secondary are waiting to implement the program for
first-time offenders.

KSS principal Susannah Brown did not have her school's specific
suspension statistics available, but said the school already uses due
process to deal with situations as they arrive.

Schools like Rutland secondary which aren't using the program think
suspension for first-time offenders works .

"It's a deterrent in that most students don't want to be suspended and
their parents are involved as well," said RSS principal Rick Oliver.

"For students who are using (marijuana) regularly and it's not just a
first time for them, it might not be as effective."

Oliver said RSS suspended 63 students last year for drug and alcohol
related offenses. He added the school would be interested in using the
AIMS program because it's another alternative to treating the problem.

Rubadeau reported in 2003 there were 250 definite suspensions (under
10 days, implemented by principal) and 20 indefinite suspensions (over
10 days, implemented by school board) for marijuana usage.

He suggested much of the drug use starts at home.

"Larger and larger amounts of this stuff are coming from home,"
Rubadeau said. "We have got a progressively larger number of kids who,
when we deal with their issue with marijuana, we find other members of
the family are users."

If the first-time offender chooses to use AIMS, they complete a
self-report questionnaire, a one-hour motivational interview
counseling session and a follow-up three months later.

According to the AIMS group, research shows brief intervention works
and helps in moving youths toward change.

By choosing to undergo this type of counseling, the student avoids
suspension, and the RCMP take note that the student chose to take
alternative action.

Const. Dean Childs, an RCMP school liaison officer, said while he
hasn't seen student drug use increase, the Young Offenders Act
prevents police from taking such action as arresting those caught with
marijuana in their possession or under the influence.

Childs, who was instrumental in the creation of AIMS, felt having such
a program would create that reasonable alternative to student

In addition to student counseling, parents are invited to attend a
three-hour workshop looking at the negative effects of marijuana use
as well as factual information.
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