AHS students, staff discuss illegal drugs | AspenTimes.com

AHS students, staff discuss illegal drugs

A white, powdery substance taken from two Aspen High students last week tested positive for cocaine, an investigator said Thursday.

Two male students were allegedly caught using the substance in a school bathroom on Oct. 10 by Assistant Principal Tom Dodd. Pitkin County Juvenile Investigator Bruce Benjamin said when he arrived on scene, Dodd showed him some “bindles” that were confiscated.

Bindles are small pieces of paper folded to hold powdered cocaine. Benjamin would not say how many bindles the students had.

The students’ names are not being released because they are juveniles. Benjamin would not comment on their ages.

He also said evidence was so far “inconclusive” as to whether or not either of the students was dealing the drug to other students.

“We believe they were using the substance in the bathroom,” he said.

Superintendent Tom Farrell said the incident has been a major topic of conversation on the campus this past week and has raised many concerns.

“If they brought cocaine on campus, someone was using it,” he said. “We’ve talked to a lot of kids this week ? [Aspen High Principal] Kendall Evans, Tom Dodd and I have made it a high priority.”

Farrell said Dodd addressed the student body on the topic, passing around the message that the students themselves have to work to keep drugs out of the school.

“We don’t want drugs in the schools, but they’re in a better position than we are to keep them out,” Farrell said of the students. “We’ll work as a team and make sure the drugs never come back.”

Farrell added that he was very surprised at the discovery of cocaine, since during his 15 years at the district the drug has never been found on campus. Benjamin echoed those sentiments.

“In my 19 years with the department I can’t remember where one student was caught with cocaine on campus, and I’ve been a juvenile investigator for 11 years,” he said. “But there’s no question we’re still seeing powdered cocaine in the Aspen community as the predominant drug, while in other communities there’s a lot more methamphetamines, ecstasy and heroin.”

Farrell said he considers the incident one more reason why the community needs to “look at its stand on drugs.”

“Kids are a factor of this community,” he said.

The students haven’t been charged yet, but Benjamin said he expects the district attorney to hand down charges for possession of a schedule II controlled substance ? a class four felony. The penalty for a conviction is up to two years in a juvenile detention facility.

Farrell would not comment on any proposed punishments for the students.

Benjamin said the parents of the two students were “shocked and disappointed in the actions of their sons,” and they complied admirably with police.

“They were not critical of either the school or law enforcement, and they were not in denial,” he said. “I was extremely happy the parents were very supportive.”

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]

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