Schools Without Drugs Enforcing Policy (continued, Part 2)
Enforce established policies against alcohol and other drug use fairly and consistently. Ensure adequate security measures to eliminate drugs from school premises and school functions.
Ensure that everyone understands the policy and the procedures that will be followed in case of infractions. Make copies of the school policy available to all parents, teachers, and students, and publicize the policy throughout the school and community.
Impose strict security measures to bar access to intruders and to prohibit student drug trafficking. Enforcement policies should correspond to the severity of the school's drug problem. For example:
- Officials can require students to carry hall passes, supervise school grounds and hallways, and secure assistance of law enforcement officials, particularly to help monitor areas around the school.
- For a severe drug problem, officials can use security personnel to monitor closely all school areas where drug sales and use are known to occur; issue mandatory identification badges for school staff and students; request the assistance of local police to help stop drug dealing; and, depending on applicable law, develop a policy that permits periodic searches of student lockers.
Review enforcement practices regularly to ensure that penalties are uniformly and fairly applied.
- Consider implementing an alternative program for students who have been suspended for drug use or possession. Some districts have developed off-campus programs to enable suspended students to continue their education in a more tightly structured environment. These programs may be offered during the day or in the evening, and may offer counseling as well as an academic curriculum. Other districts have successfully used a probationary alternative that combined a short-term in-school suspension with requirements for drug testing and participation in support groups as a condition of returning to the classroom.
Lawrenceville Middle School Lawrenceville, Georgia
Ten years ago, Lawrenceville, Georgia, was a rural community outside Atlanta. Today it is a full-fledged suburb, and one of the nation's fastest-growing. Lawrenceville Middle School, responding to rapid changes in the community, did not wait for a crisis to begin thinking about the drug education needs of its 1100 students. It conducted a survey in 1981 to use as a benchmark to measure drug-free progress in subsequent years and to help define an appropriate program--the first in Gwinnett County--for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
The Lawrenceville program emphasizes five prevention strategies: education, life and social skills, healthy alternatives, risk factor reduction, and environmental change. While annual surveys help the faculty and parents assess its effectiveness, they are not the only way they measure effectiveness. Regular informal assessments and day-today faculty observation help to fine tune the program from year to year and suggest any immediate changes required. A case in point: when teachers began to observe an increase in tobacco use, particularly smokeless tobacco use, they formed a committee that included parents and administrators and came up with a plan to include more information in the curriculum on the harmful effects of tobacco and more up-to-date materials in the media center. They also decided to implement a no-tobacco use policy for the school staff. The following year, incidents of student tobacco use decreased dramatically.
Parents, students, and teachers attribute much of Lawrenceville's drug education success to its alternative program, STRIDE, (Student/Teacher Resource Institute for Drug Education), a unique concept that has captured the attention--and drug-free pledges--of more than 80 percent of Lawrenceville's students.
STRIDE's leadership team--composed of seventh-and eighth-graders-meets during the summer to plan activities for the upcoming year. A program featuring 10 to 12 major events is outlined at the summer planning session. STRIDE leaders meet regularly during the school year to implement the program and delegate responsibilities. STRIDE events--held after school from 2:00 to 5:00--are widely publicized by STRIDE members. Events include programs by visiting athletes who qualify as role models, dances, videos, plays, speakers from the community, and special sports events.
Teaching About Drug Prevention
Recommendation # 7:
Implement a comprehensive drug prevention curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12, teaching that drug use is wrong and harmful, and supporting and strengthening resistance to drugs.
A model program would have these main objectives:
- To value and maintain sound personal health.
- To respect laws and rules prohibiting drugs.
- To resist pressures to use drugs.
- To promote student activities that are drug free and offer healthy avenues for student interests.
In developing a program, school staff should take the following steps:
- Determine curriculum content appropriate for the school's drug problem and grade levels.
- Base the curriculum on an understanding of why children try drugs in order to teach them how to resist pressures to use drugs.
- Review existing materials for possible adaptation. State and national organizations--and some lending libraries--that have an interest in drug prevention make available lists of materials.
In implementing a program, school staff should take the following steps:
- Include students in all grades. Effective drug education is cumulative.
- Teach about drugs in health education classes, and reinforce this curriculum with appropriate materials in classes such as social studies and science.
- Develop expertise in drug prevention through training. Teachers should be knowledgeable about drugs, personally committed to opposing drug use, and skilled at eliciting participation by students in drug prevention efforts.
(For more detailed information on topics and learning activities to incorporate in a drug prevention program, see pages 44-49.)
Tips for Selecting Drug Prevention Materials
In evaluating drug prevention materials, keep the following points in mind:
Check the date of publication. Material published before 1980 may be outdated; even recently published materials may be inaccurate.
Look for "warning flag" phrases and concepts. The following expressions, many of which appear frequently in "pro-drug" material, falsely imply that there is a "safe" use of mind-altering drugs: experimental use, recreational use, social use, controlled use, responsible use, use/abuse.
Mood-altering is a deceptive euphemism for mind-altering.
The implication of the phrase mood-altering is that only temporary feelings are involved. The fact is that mood changes are biological changes in the brain.
"There are no 'good' or 'bad' drugs, just improper use."
This is a popular semantic camouflage in pro-drug literature. It confuses young people and minimizes the distinct chemical differences among substances.
"The child's own decision."
Parents cannot afford to leave such hazardous choices to their children. It is the parents' responsibility to do all in their power to provide the information and the protection to assure their children a drug-free childhood and adolescence.
Be alert for contradictory messages. Many authors give a pro-drug message and then cover their tracks by including "cautions" about how to use drugs.
Make certain that the health consequences revealed in current research are adequately described. Literature should make these facts clear: The high potency of marijuana on the market today makes it more dangerous than ever. THC, a psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is fat-soluble, and its accumulation in the body has many adverse biological effects. Cocaine can cause death and is one of the most addictive drugs known. It takes less alcohol to produce impairment in youths than in adults.
Demand material that sets positive standards of behavior for children. The message conveyed must be an expectation that children can say no to drugs. The publication and its message must provide the information and must support family involvement to reinforce the child's courage to stay drug free.
A fuller discussion of curriculum selection is offered in Drug Prevention Curricula: A Guide to Selection and Implementation. The guide is published by the U.S. Department of Education and is available from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, Box 2345 Rockville MD 20852.
Enlisting the Community's Help
Reach out to the community for support and assistance in making the school's anti-drug policy and program work. Develop collaborative arrangements in which school personnel, parents, school boards, law enforcement officers, treatment organizations, and private groups can work together to provide necessary resources.
School officials should recognize that they cannot solve the drug problem by themselves. They need to enlist the community's support for their efforts by taking the following actions:
- Increase community understanding of the problem through meetings, media coverage, and education programs.
- Build public support for the policy; develop agreement on the goals of a school drug policy, including prevention and enforcement goals.
- Educate the community about the effects and extent of the drug problem.
- Strengthen contacts with law enforcement agencies through discussions about the school's specific drug problems and ways they can assist in drug education and enforcement.
- Call on local professionals, such as physicians and pharmacists, to share their expertise on drug abuse as class lecturers.
- Mobilize the resources of community groups and local businesses to support the program.
Legal Questions on Search and Seizure
In 1985, the Supreme Court for the first time analyzed the application in the public school setting of the Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. The Court sought to craft a rule that would balance the need of school authorities to maintain order and the privacy rights of students. The questions in this section summarize the decisions of the Supreme Court and of lower Federal courts. School officials should consult with legal counsel in formulating their policies.
What legal standard applies to school officials who search students and their possessions for drugs?
The Supreme Court has held that school officials may institute a search if there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that the search will reveal evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school.
Do school officials need a search warrant to conduct a search for drugs?
No, not if they are carrying out the search independent of the police and other law enforcement officials. A more stringent legal standard may apply if law enforcement officials are involved in the search.
How extensive can a search be?
The scope of the permissible search will depend on whether the measures used during the search are reasonably related to the purpose of the search and are not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student being searched. The more intrusive the search, the greater the justification that will be required by the courts.
Do school officials have to stop a search when they find the object of the search?
Not necessarily. If a search reveals items suggesting the presence of other evidence of crime or misconduct, the school official may continue the search. For example, if a teacher is justifiably searching a student's purse for cigarettes and finds rolling papers, it will be reasonable (subject to any local policy to the contrary) for the teacher to search the rest of the purse for evidence of drugs.
Can school officials search student lockers?
Reasonable grounds to believe that a particular student locker contains evidence of a violation of the law or school rules will generally justify a search of that locker. In addition, some courts have upheld written school policies that authorize school officials to inspect student lockers at any time.
(For a more detailed discussion of legal issues, see pages 50-60).
Legal Questions on Suspension and Expulsion
The following questions and answers briefly describe several Federal requirements that apply to the use of suspension and expulsion as disciplinary tools in public schools. These may not reflect all laws, policies, and judicial precedents applicable to any given school district. School officials should consult with legal counsel to determine the application of these laws in their schools and to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.
What Federal procedural requirements apply to suspension or expulsion?
- The Supreme Court has held that students facing suspension or expulsion from school are entitled under the U.S. Constitution to the basic due process protections of notice and an opportunity to be heard. The nature and formality of the "hearing" to be provided depend on the severity of the sanction being imposed.
- A formal hearing is not required when a school seeks to suspend a student for 10 days or less. Due process in that situation requires only that:
-- the school inform the student, either orally or in writing, of the charges and of the evidence to support those charges.
-- the school give the student an opportunity to deny the charges and present his or her side of the story.
-- as a general rule, the notice to the student and a rudimentary hearing should precede a suspension unless a student's presence poses a continuing danger to persons or property or threatens to disrupt the academic process. In such cases, the notice and rudimentary hearing should follow as soon as possible after the student's removal.
More formal procedures may be required for suspensions longer than 10 days and for expulsions. In addition, Federal law and regulations establish special rules governing suspensions and expulsions of students with disabilities.
- States and local school districts may require additional procedures.
Can students be suspended or expelled from school for use, possession, or sale of drugs?
Generally, yes. A school may suspend or expel students in accordance with the terms of its discipline policy. A school policy may provide for penalties of varying severity, including suspension or expulsion, to respond to drug-related offenses. It is helpful to be explicit about the types of offenses that will be punished and about the penalties that may be imposed for particular types of offenses (e.g., use, possession, or sale of drugs). Generally, State and local law will determine the range of sanctions permitted.
(For a more detailed discussion of legal issues, see pages 50-60.)
WHAT STUDENTS CAN DO
- Learn about the effects of drug use, the reasons why drugs are harmful, and ways to resist pressures to try drugs.
- Use an understanding of the danger posed by drugs to help other students avoid them. Encourage other students to resist drugs, persuade those using drugs to seek help, and report those selling drugs to parents and the school principal.
Learning the Facts
Learn about the effects of alcohol and other drug use, the reasons why drugs are harmful, and ways to resist pressures to try drugs. Students can arm themselves with the knowledge to resist drug use in the following ways:
- Learning about the effects and risks of drugs.
- Learning the symptoms of drug use and the names of organizations and individuals available to help when friends or family members are in trouble.
- Understanding the pressures to use drugs and ways to counteract
- Knowing the school rules on drugs and ways to help make the school policy work.
- Knowing the school procedures for reporting drug offenses.
- Knowing the laws on drug use and the penalties--for example, for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs--and understanding how the laws protect individuals and society.
- Developing skill in communicating their opposition to drugs and their resolve to avoid drug use.
R.H. Watkins High School of Jones County, Mississippi, has developed this pledge setting forth the duties and responsibilities of student counselors in its peer counseling program.
Responsibility Pledge for a Peer Counselor R.H. Watkins High School
As a drug education peer counselor you have the opportunity to help the youth of our community develop to their full potential without the interference of illegal drug use. It is a responsibility you must not take lightly. Therefore, please read the following responsibilities you will be expected to fulfill next school year and discuss them with your parents or guardians.
Responsibilities of a Peer Counselor
- Understand and be able to clearly state your beliefs and attitudes about drug use among teens and adults.
- Maintain an average of C or better in all classes.
- Maintain a citizenship average of B or better.
- Participate in some club or extracurricular activity that emphasizes the positive side of school life.
- Successfully complete training for the program, including, for example, units on the identification and symptoms of drug abuse, history and reasons for drug abuse, and the legal/economic aspects of drug abuse.
- Successfully present monthly programs on drug abuse in each of the elementary and junior high schools of the Laurel City school system, and to community groups, churches, and statewide groups as needed.
- Participate in rap sessions or individual counseling sessions with Laurel City school students.
- Attend at least one Jones County Drug Council meeting per year, attend the annual Drug Council Awards Banquet, work in the Drug Council Fair exhibit and in any Drug Council workshops, if needed.
- Grades and credit for Drug Education will be awarded on successful completion of and participation in all the above-stated activities.
________________________ ____________________________ Student's Signature Parent's or Guardian's Signature
Helping to Fight Drug Use
Recommendation # 10:
Use an understanding of the danger posed by alcohol and other drugs to help other students avoid them. Encourage other students to resist drugs, persuade those using drugs to seek help, and report those selling drugs to parents and the school principal.
Although students are the primary victims of drug use in the schools, drug use cannot be stopped or prevented unless students actively participate in this effort.
Students can help fight alcohol and other drug use in the following ways:
- Participating in discussions about the extent of the problem at their own school.
- Supporting a strong school anti-drug policy and firm, consistent enforcement of rules.
- Setting a positive example for fellow students and speaking forcefully against drug use.
- Teaching other students, particularly younger ones, about the harmful effects of drugs.
- Encouraging their parents to join with other parents to promote a drug-free environment outside school. Some successful parent groups have been started as a result of the pressure of a son or daughter was concerned about drugs.
- Becoming actively involved in efforts to inform the community about the drug problem.
- Joining in or starting a club or other activity to create positive, challenging ways for young people to have fun without alcohol and other drugs. Obtaining adult sponsorship for the group and publicizing its activities.
- Encouraging friends who have a drug problem to seek help and reporting persons selling drugs to parents and the principal.
WHAT COMMUNITIES CAN DO
- Help schools fight drugs by providing them with the expertise and financial resources of community groups and agencies.
- Involve local law enforcement agencies in all aspects of drug prevention: assessment, enforcement, and education. The police and courts should have well-established relationships with the schools.
Recommendation # 11:
Help schools fight drugs by providing them with the expertise and financial resources of community groups and agencies.
Law enforcement agencies and the courts can take the following actions:
- Provide volunteers to speak in the schools about the legal ramifications of alcohol and other drug use. Officers can encourage students to cooperate with them to stop drug use.
- Meet with school officials to discuss alcohol and other drug use in the school, share information on the drug problem outside the school, and help school officials in their investigations.
Social service and health agencies can take the following actions:
- Provide volunteers to speak in the school about the effects of drugs.
- Meet with parents to discuss symptoms of drug use and to inform them about counseling resources.
- Provide the schools with health professionals to evaluate students who may be potential drug users.
- Provide referrals to local treatment programs for students who are using drugs.
- Establish and conduct drug counseling and support groups for students.
Business leaders can take the following actions:
- Speak in the schools about the effects of alcohol and other drug use on employment.
- Provide incentives for students who participate in drug prevention programs and lead drug-free lives.
- Help schools obtain curriculum materials for their drug prevention program.
- Sponsor drug-free activities for young people.
Parent groups can take the following actions:
- Mobilize others through informal discussions, door-to-door canvassing, and school meetings to ensure that students get a consistent no-drug message at home, at school, and in the community.
- Contribute volunteers to chaperone student parties and other activities.
Print and broadcast media can take the following actions:
- Educate the community about the nature of the drug problem in their schools.
- Publicize school efforts to combat the problem.
Project DARE Los Angeles, California
A collaborative effort begun in 1983 by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District, Project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) uses uniformed law enforcement officers in classrooms as regular instructors. DARE officers use a drug curriculum that teaches students resistance to peer pressure to use drugs, self-management skills, and alternatives to drug use.
DARE reaches all Los Angeles Unified School District students from kindergarten through junior high school. DARE has also spread outside Los Angeles--police officers from 48 States and 1100 police agencies have received DARE training. The DARE program is also being used by the Department of Defense Dependents' Schools (military police serve as instructors) and at Bureau of Indian Affairs Schools (BIA police officers serve as instructors).
In addition to providing classroom instruction, the program arranges teacher orientation, officer-student interaction (on playgrounds and in cafeterias, for example), and a parent education evening at which DARE officers explain the program to parents and provide information about symptoms of drug use and ways to increase family communication.
Studies have shown that DARE has improved students' attitudes about themselves, increased their sense of responsibility for themselves and to police, and strengthened their resistance to drugs. For example, before the DARE program began, 51 percent of fifth grade students equated drug use with having more friends. After training, only 8 percent reported this attitude.
DARE's parent program has also changed attitudes. Before DARE training, 61 percent of parents thought that there was nothing parents could do about their children's use of drugs; only 5 percent reported this opinion after the program. Before DARE training, 32 percent of parents thought that it was all right for children to drink alcohol at a party as long as adults were present. After DARE, no parents reported such a view.
Involving Law Enforcement
Recommendation # 12:
Involve local law enforcement agencies in all aspects of drug prevention: assessment, enforcement, and education. The police and courts should have well-established relationships with the schools.
Community groups can take the following actions:
- Support school officials who take a strong position against alcohol and other drug use.
- Support State and local policies to keep drugs and drug paraphernalia away from schoolchildren.
- Build a community consensus in favor of strong penalties for persons convicted of selling drugs, particularly for adults who have sold drugs to children.
- Encourage programs to provide treatment to juvenile first-offenders while maintaining tough penalties for repeat offenders and drug sellers.
Law enforcement agencies, in cooperation with schools, can take the following actions:
- Establish the procedures each will follow in school drug cases.
- Provide expert personnel to participate in prevention activities from kindergarten through grade 12.
- Secure areas around schools and see that the sale and use of drugs are stopped.
- Provide advice and personnel to help improve security in the school or on school premises.
Lincoln Junior High Washington, D.C.
Abraham Lincoln Junior High is a modern school located in an innercity neighborhood. Its ethnically diverse student body has 700 students, representing more than 30 counties. The student population is 51 percent black and 43 percent Hispanic. Many of the students coming to Lincoln for the first time are newly arrived immigrants from war-torn countries.
Many of these newly arrived students are eager for acceptance by their new peers and just as eager to adjust to American culture. Teachers are keenly aware of the students' desire to fit in and realize that it is important to let these children know that the majority of American children do not use drugs nor is drug use an accepted behavior. This is not an easy task for the teachers to accomplish since the rampant drug activity going on in their neighborhood may suggest otherwise.
Lincoln's faculty-sponsored clubs are an important way teachers support what they want the drug education program to accomplish. To participate in any club, members must pledge to be drug free. Two clubs are designed to develop confidence and reinforce social and citizenship skills. Other clubs target special interests such as the Lincoln Chess Club and LatiNegro, a student arts group. A summer Substance Abuse Prevention Education Camp involves nearly 100 students in activities ranging from volley ball to dance to field trips.
The staff also encourages students to help each other. The Peer Helper Club, whose members are trained in substance abuse prevention and leadership skills, publishes a handbook dispensing advice and a magazine, Cuidando Nuestra Juventud (Taking Care of Our Youth), to which the entire student body can contribute.
Another innovative way the school gets its message across is by having the Student Response Team (SRT). This team is comprised of ninth graders trained to become mediators. They advertise their services within the school and get referrals from students and teachers. Students who use the services of the SRT must agree in advance to abide by the result of the mediation process or be expelled from school. Mediators meet with students in conflict at lunch or are called from class if the matter is urgent. This multiracial team has been effective in reducing violence and convincing peers that they don't have to go to the streets to settle disputes.
Drugs threaten our children's lives, disrupt our schools, shatter families, and, in some areas, shatter communities. Drug-related crimes overwhelm our courts, social agencies, and police. This situation need not and must not continue.
Across the United States, schools and communities have found ways to turn the tide in the battle against drugs. The methods they have used and the actions they have taken are described in this volume. We know what works. We know that drug use can be stopped.
But we cannot expect the schools to do the job without the help of parents, police, the courts, and other community groups. Drugs will be beaten only when all of us work together to deliver a firm, consistent message to those who would use or sell drugs: a message that illegal drugs will not be tolerated. It is time to join in a national effort to achieve schools without drugs.
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