A tougher stance

FISD trustees will mull drug policies;

strong measures needed to combat student use

By Ken Esten Cooke— Marble Falls Independent School District students who are caught with drugs are banned from extra-curricular activities for one year on the first offense, and banned for life for a second offense.

In Burnet ISD, a community-wide program has begun to combat use, especially by the student population, after a 2011 tragedy all too similar to the recent one here.

These are just two examples of area districts that have adopted strong stances in hopes of never losing a student to drug use.

When trustees for the Fredericksburg Independent School District hold their annual summer retreat to go over various issues, we hope that some of the district’s vague policies, or ones considered unenforceable when dealing with off-campus use, are revisited and the consequences given more teeth.

We don’t think that school officials have been slacking in this area — indeed, drug dog searches and random testing are in place at FHS, which is more than many districts do to combat student drug use. We also know they must balance what they can do against state mandates and individual civil liberties.

But after the overdose death of an FHS student and hospitalization of another, we hope the district will explore tough consequences for drug use, whether on campus or off, and pursue a less lenient policy for first- and second-time offenders. Looking the other way, no matter who the student in question is — or rather, who his or her parents are — should not be an option.

Yes, it is important that students with substance abuse problems get treatment and do not feel ostracized to the point of retreating further into drug use. But it also is important that other students realize the severe consequences for these illegal actions.

The issue seems to have sunk in with many students, as some are choosing to tell school officials of suspected drug use and ignore the potential reputation as a “narc.” We admire this and hope this attitude doesn’t diminish as time passes from the death of a fellow student.

But we also note that a bust occurred on campus last Thursday, so it has not resonated with all students.

We trust the FISD board of directors is well-aware of the shortcomings of its current policy. Like everyone in the community, the overdose death came as a shock to most in the community and we have all had an unwanted education about student drug use in recent weeks.

We also trust that everyone reading this realizes that combating drug use can’t and shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the school district. There is no way to realistically police nearly 2,000 youths whether school is in session or not. Let’s also not pretend that these problems are solely concerning public school children.

Fredericksburg is a great small town, but it has problems just like any other place. Let’s not get hung up acting like FISD is the only district in the state with drugs on campus, but let’s deal with the problems realistically and strongly, and teach our youths early that consequences for illegal activities are a part of life.

** We’d like to know what you think about this issue. We had umpteen letters on gun rights, but only two on this issue that closely affects our children.  Send your letters to the editor (300 words or less) to fbgnews@fredericksburgstandard.com.

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