Student drug use concerns staff, students

Both students and staff in our school have recently displayed a concern about drug usage in our school.  

“Yes, [there is an issue] but it is not a perfect science,” said Assistant Principal Mark Weddig.
Our school has been compared to other schools in the state, and the facts show our school may have a problem.“There are statistically more incidents with drugs than comparable schools,” said Weddig. “There are a few ways to compare within the Wisconsin school system; by size and by conference, but all schools don’t account for discipline the same way [so the data is not completely accurate],” said Weddig.


Our school statistically has a problem, but where do problems like these start?

“The addiction is filling a void for something the person feels is missing in their life,” said guidance counselor Sue Leadholm.

Those who get addicted are often introduced to the drugs through peer pressure, friends, or family members. It is very common for older peers to introduce younger peers to a drug.

“Drug addiction is like any addiction. When a person uses or eats or exercises too much, then it takes over or controls their life. It becomes abuse,” said Leadholm.

Those who are addicted often do not know or can’t see it.

“They are too wrapped in their issues or in denial. Obviously drugs are illegal, so it is more of a problem,” said Leadholm.

Someone can be addicted on different levels, and some are more serious than others.

“Once a person becomes chemically dependant on something they need to take more and more to get the same feeling,” said Leadholm

The current school policy for drug use in school is expulsion.

“The School Board policy [on drugs] is the same as most schools: the student must be taken for expulsion and then the Board decides,” said Weddig.

When a student is expelled, they are not simply thrown out the door.

“They are not just punished. They are expected to get help for their issues,” said Leadholm. There are conditions students must meet before returning to school. These include random drug tests and an AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse) class component like counseling or drug prevention class. Some cases allow for a decreased penalty if the student is willing to go into an in-patient setting.
The newest plan put in place to combat drugs in our school is the reasonable suspicion policy, a resolution supported by Student Senate. There must be reasonable suspicion before anything is taken further. There are 20 characteristics and a student must display at least three before anything happens.
“Staff will be trained by law enforcement,” said Weddig.
A concern from students is that the checklist contains many symptoms that are simple or common. Weddig said  that we “don’t see adults getting penalized by the law enforcement for having a cold or jogging,” and it would be similar in our school.
Weddig also stressed that this was not a plan made to target people.
“The beginning idea was to keep people safe,” said Weddig. 
If a student is concerned about a classmate’s health and safety, he or she should tell a trusted adult and use specific examples to justify their concerns.