Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hampton Schools may become weak on drug users...

My fellow Tattlers,

I hope you all had a great summer and now I'm back with more regular posts. Over the last month or so, I switched jobs and have started on a new path from writing for a newspaper to doing a few other things in communications.

But I digress, apparently Hampton Township School officials are looking at new ways to enforce drug abuse prevention in the school district. They are considering decreasing the number of school days a student can be suspended for drug possession.

For first-time offenders, the old procedure called for a student to be suspended from school for 45 calendar days, with the non-cooperation of the student giving a possibility of up to 184 school days depending on the circumstances.

The change would keep first-time offenders out for 20 school days, with the possibility of that going up to 60 days.

Second-time offenders formerly were suspended from school for a minimum of 184 school days. The change would mean students would be suspended for 90 days at the minimum, up to 184 school days.

Third-time offenders were and still will be expelled from school permanently.

While I realize you should not look at the world in a black and white perspective, it will be a terrible mistake for Hampton if these changes are approved. School officials SHOULD increase the suspension length and offer more drug prevention initiatives.

Being proactive is the best approach. One problem could be that some deny there is a drug problem in the community when let's face it folks -- drug abuse affects people from all walks of life.

Hampton officials say they are in favor of the change because it will give building administrators the opportunity to look at things on a case by case basis. The problem is if an administrator is weak on enforcement or may have a close relationship with a suspected student would they lay down an appropriate suspension length?

That is why policies should be a detailed as possible when suspending a student. Let the policy determine how a student is punished and not an administrator.

Hopefully, Hampton School Board members come to their senses and not even let the policy changes come up for a vote. If not, election season is right around the corner.

Working to keep you posted...


Paul said...

I question the whole notion of suspension of any length of time in cases of this type.

Suspensions of any length are only going to put the students' academics at risk and with many parents working often creates a situation where a child will be unsupervised during the day. And the reality is that most kids view suspension as a form of free vacation and not punishment. How does that serve their best interest or that of the schools'?

If a kid has already accessed drugs, what exactly do school officials think the kid is going to be doing when they're on suspension?

It would be a lot more useful in my opinion if first offenders at least were given in-school suspensions where they're taken out of the mainstream classes and isolated from their friends, given additional work to keep them busy and more importantly supervised more rigidly and observed over a period of time for behavior clues as to the extent of there drug problem.

That might actually get the attention of some of the first time offenders.

SirFuller said...

Thanks for your input Paul.

As a former journalist who covered North Hills for more than 4 years, being proactive is the best approach.

Preventing drug problems should be a priority for all residents, school staff and school board members.