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Tyrone school district leaders to change policy on drug awareness

Following the arrest of a Tyrone High School senior last year for possession of Heroin on the school grounds, the punishment was a 10-day suspension.
Since that incident, the administration of the Tyrone School District has been addressing the issue of the drug awareness policy among others.
On the tyronepa.com website, the topic of TASD punishments has received 46 posts and been viewed by nearly 600 people, by far the most viewed thread on the community feedback site.
“We felt there was a need for a revision of the policy,” said TASD Superintendent Dr. William Miller. “We wanted to put more teeth into the policy. With the revisions, at any stage, being under the influence, possession, selling drugs or refusal to follow the procedure, the student is not just facing a suspension, but the possibility of expulsion.”
In the new drug awareness policy that was presented to the board for its first reading on Tuesday night, the following actions involving chemicals or paraphernalia will incur consequences:
• attempting to secure or purchase
• using or having used
• possessing
• intending or attempting to sell or distribute
• selling or distributing.
This policy refers to alcohol, restricted drugs (misused prescription or over-the-counter), illegal drugs (including steroids), look-alike drugs, pills or other substances which are misrepresented and sold or distributed as restricted or illegal drugs and any volatile solvents or inhalants, such as but not limited to glue and aerosol propellants.
The new policy gives the administration some flexibility if someone is in possession, under the influence or seeks to distribute drugs on school property.
Possession
For the first offense, the student will be suspended out-of-school for 10 days and subject to an administrative hearing, fine, law enforcement action and school board hearing for possible expulsion. The student will be excluded from all non-competitive extracurricular activities and excluded from practicing and attending all non-competitive extra-curricular activities and competitive extracurricular activities for nine weeks or the period of expulsion.
A second offense will also carry the 10 day suspension and a hearing before the administration and board and the no extracurricular activities for nine weeks.
Distribution
If a student attempts to distribute or distributes any drug/mood altering substance/alcohol/anabolic steroids/look-alike drug, the situation will be investigated and all necessary procedures will be followed. A student may be required to submit to drug testing. The administration will attempt to contact a parent/guardian. If the student refuses to comply with the directives of the administration, which may include search and/or drug testing, this refusal will be treated as a policy violation and the student will be subject to possible suspension and/or expulsion.
The investigation will be conducted by the principal or his/he authorized delegate. School or State Police may be involved in the investigation at the discretion of the administration. Because of the severity of this situation, extreme care should be exercised during the investigation. The student will be questioned by the principal and asked to surrender any drugs. The student, his/her purse, pockets, desk, locker, auto and all other possessions may be searched, in the presence of a second staff member and the student will not be left alone during the process.
If the student is found guilty of the offense, they face a 10-day suspension with consideration by the superintendent for recommended board expulsion for an indefinite period of time. After the expulsion period is completed, the guardian/student may petition the administration for review. There may be a formal hearing before the board consistent with all aspects of the due process requirements.
“Many of the seniors that I interviewed following the past school year felt the district needed to be more aggressive when it came to our drug policies,” said Miller. “They were in favor of more testing and stricter punishments for those who were caught with drugs.”
The drug awareness policy is separate from the drug testing policy adopted last year for extracurricular activities.
“We are aware that some of the students are using drugs and alcohol,” said Miller. “Our primary goal is to help educate students to make good decisions. Some of the students who have made the wrong decision, we want to help get back on the right track.”
The policy is available for reading at the Tyrone School District business office during regular office hours and will come for a vote in the August meeting of the Tyrone School Board of Directors.