Falmouth revists school policy on drug, alcohol use

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FALMOUTH — A School Board task force met for the first time last week to discuss potential changes to the policy governing drugs and alcohol.

Chris Murry Jr., chairman of the board’s policy committee, said the conversation about the drug and alcohol policy is not a result of two parties involving Falmouth High School students this year that led to several arrests, but that the 6-year-old policy requires some review.

“What happened in June, while unfortunate, and clearly there were issues associated with that, is not the primary motivator,” Murry said. “Over the past six years we have had a policy in place and there have been ups and downs with it and we have to address those. We can’t deny those incidents happened, they were in the press and public, but this should not be looked at as reactionary to those incidents because that’s not the right conversation to have.”

He said that this is only the beginning of a process that will last seven months.

The task force includes students, school officials, parents, coaches, boosters, community members and police. At the first meeting the group discussed what the major concerns of committee members were and what the policy should discuss.

“The conversation is about what needs to be revised and what needs to be changed,” said Analiese Larson, School Board chairwoman. She said some of the topics that came up were whether the policy should be in effect for just the school year versus the calendar year, tobacco use versus drug and alcohol use, and whether students who violate the policy should be allowed to practice with sports teams or participate in extracurricular activities

“So many things came up that we really need to examine and dialogue,” Larson said.

Both Murry and Larson said that any new policy requires the support of the entire community.

“(Our) policy will only be as effective as the commitment in the community,” said Murray. “This is a community issue, not just a sport issue.”

Falmouth Police Chief Ed Tolan agreed and said the Police Department wants to work with the schools to make any new policy as effective as possible.

“We have to enforce and monitor the situations that are occurring off school property, parties and those type of events, and we work with the schools, but there is only so much we can do (with out a specific policy),” Tolan said.

The chief said he thinks the committee should consider educational programs for first offenses, so policy is not strictly punitive.

Several focus groups will start meeting in November and December. In addition, Larson said there will be open meetings so that the public can have input on policy decisions.

“We really want community involvement,” she said. “The policies are only as good as the communities that are going to support them.”

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.