February target for revised high school drug policy in Falmouth

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FALMOUTH — The School Board’s policy committee is confident it has a good sense of what the community wants in a high school drug-and-alcohol policy.

Only about 13 people showed up for public input sessions held Dec. 17 and 20, but those who attended provided meaningful feedback, committee Chairman Chris Murry Jr. said.

Murry said he hopes the policy will be ready to present to the School Board by February.

“We were fortunate that despite low numbers, we were able to have rich and diverse conversations about where the community wants the policy to go,” Murry said.

He said that the committee has found the majority of people fall into one of two camps: those who believe the school’s focus should be on education and making sure students are safe during school, and those who believe that schools need to hold students accountable around the clock.

“(Our job) is to find that right balance,” Murry said. “We have our primary mission (keeping students safe) and we also have kids that represent the community and (the question is) how do we support them to make the right choices and hold them accountable outside of school when they represent the school district, the community and their fellow students.”

He said there is no definite language being drafted for the policy yet, but he believes the committee has a good sense of where to go from here.

In the next few weeks, the committee will compile all of the feedback from the two focus groups and meetings with coaches, students and administrators.

He said the major thing the public seems to want the committee to focus on is keeping students safe as well as providing support for those students who might need help.

Two things Murry said have been sticky subjects are what to do when students are in put in situations where they are “knowingly present,” but not using drugs or alcohol, and potential punishment for offenses.

He said that the committee will consider all of its options in creating a policy with equitable penalties, and whether the policy should be customizable depending on the student.

“Really I think that what we have heard is an encouragement to look at a menu of options which give the administrators a tool kit to craft contracts with kids so that after they’ve violated policy, a punishment is formed that is appropriate for them and will ideally teach them a lesson,” Murry said.

Discussion surrounding changes to the policy began this fall, part of a six-year cycle of policy construction and review.

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