Together, we can end drugs in school

March 22, 2014

I have heard several comments lately about the issue of drugs in schools and have had parents inquire and insinuate that we have a “drug problem” in our GISD schools.

I want to address what GISD is doing regarding this issue and, more importantly, what can be done to rid drugs from our schools immediately.

First, I will tell you that I am not naïve enough to think that no student ever has drugs at our campuses.

The truth is that if you take any organization with 8,000 people in it, there will be a small percentage of those who choose to make some really bad decisions.

So, I am sure that we have a small percentage of students who make the same poor decisions that adults make from time to time.

But, let’s talk about what GISD is doing.

DRUG DOG

Last year, at the request of my student advisory group, GISD, the Granbury Police Department and the city of Granbury joined to purchase a drug detection dog that is exclusively used on GISD campuses. We are one of very few districts in Texas who has this type of daily interaction with a drug dog.

Ben (the drug dog) along with Officer Jeff Hastings are on GISD campuses every day, and they have been great additions to our district.

Ben is a hard worker, and if drugs are on campus, he will find them. He regularly goes to all areas of our school including parking lots, locker rooms and after-school events.

Officer Hastings and Ben are forming positive relationships with our students and work together to focus on any drug or criminal activity in GISD. Some recent tips have come from students who are taking charge and want to keep our school free from drugs and other substances.

Next, we have a comprehensive drug testing program in place that randomly tests students who are involved in any extracurricular activity on campus. By law, those are the only students we can require to be tested.

Our testing program is not in place to “catch” students. It is there to educate and discourage our students from making poor choices, to serve as a deterrent and to give students a reason to say no to peer pressure.

If a student tests positive, they are placed in an educational program to help them understand what they are doing to their bodies and the impact on their life if they continue.

In addition, when they test positive, they are automatically tested each subsequent time drug tests are administered. If a student continues to test positive, they are suspended from participation and go through a series of steps that could lead to being banned from extracurricular activities at GISD.

The one thing I want to make clear is that drug use is not just a GISD problem. This is a community problem, and it is an issue on which parents and the school must work together.

Students who use drugs at school also use them at home, with their friends, on the weekends, during summer breaks, etc. To think that this only happens at school and the school is the problem is placing blame in the wrong place. Many illegal substances we find at school are prescription drugs that come from a parent’s medicine cabinet.

We are doing everything we can to combat drugs at school, but we need your help.

As parents (and I am one, too) we must have conversations with our children about who they associate with at school and away from school, what kind of activities they engage in, and how to make good decisions while not succumbing to peer pressure.

The message I tell students all the time is this: If you want to end drug use at our schools, you can.

THEY WILL BE ARRESTED

Here is how: When you know someone has drugs on campus, tell Officer Hastings or one of our administrators the name of the student who has drugs, where they are located and where you last saw them. I promise you that they will be searched, and if they are found to be in possession of drugs, they will be arrested immediately!

Or, students can submit anonymous tips through the Hood County Crime Stoppers program. It doesn’t get much easier than that to eradicate a problem.

But, it takes more than school officials, drug dogs and police. It takes parents and students stepping up and making a statement that this type behavior will not be tolerated in our schools.

Talking about it, gossiping, posting derogatory statements on social media or telling us of something that supposedly happened two weeks ago does no good.

We must be notified immediately with good information when someone knows of drugs on our campuses. If you will do your part, I promise you we will do ours.

Together, we can end the nonsense of drugs in our schools.

Dr. Jim Largent is the superintendent of Granbury ISD. If you have topics you would like for him to address in future columns, he can be reached at [email protected]

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