Drug policies under scrutiny | AspenTimes.com

Drug policies under scrutiny

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen School District will continue to evaluate its policies on drug and alcohol abuse in order to reach a new generation of students, not as a quick fix for a recent drug bust on school property.

The members of the Aspen School Board agreed during their Monday night meeting to re-evaluate its antiquated drug policies ? rules that some board members feel don’t offer enough guidance to district staff and administrators.

“As policies, I think they lack direction,” board member Fred Peirce said.

District Superintendent Tom Farrell said one problem with the policies is their revision schedule. Though pieces of the guidelines have been revised over the years ? most recently, just over three years ago ? the entire policy document hasn’t been revised as a whole in quite some time. Enlisting the help of an outside committee to make revision recommendations would help the district better structure its drug policies, Farrell said.

But the school district’s administrative policies on drug and alcohol abuse aren’t the only documents in need of revision. Districtwide educational plans should also be evaluated, Farrell said.

Though Farrell credited the Valley Partnership for Drug Prevention, the district’s partner in abuse education, and their work with local schools, he also stressed the need for a stronger, comprehensive drug education curriculum for the district.

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“We just don’t have a K through 12 sequential program,” he said. “That wouldn’t be acceptable with something like math.”

The school board has also discussed the possibility of a districtwide health education coordinator to solve these types of dilemmas, board member Alice Davis pointed out. A coordinator “might be a small piece of the puzzle,” Farrell said, but could be more effective for the district with a stronger drug education curriculum behind them.

Board member Jon Seigle cautioned that an evaluation of both administrative policies and school curriculum shouldn’t be rushed due to recent incidents at Aspen High School.

“I hope we don’t just throw something together because of the events of this year,” Seigle said, alluding to an Oct. 10 incident in which two AHS students were caught with cocaine in a school bathroom.

Farrell assured the board that a committee, which would utilize a branch of the District Accountability Committee, would be tapped to held district administrators evaluate the problem. However, he warned that the process might be a lengthy one.

“People want a good program while their kids are in school,” Farrell said. “The only solution is the long run ? there’s no quick fix to this problem … You have to stay the course and believe in your plan.”

Farrell will discuss the policy review with the DAC in the next few weeks, he told the board, and return with a report after the school district’s winter break.

The school board will also meet with the Aspen City Council, Pitkin Board of County Commissioners and members of area law enforcement in January, members decided. Though the group hopes to discuss the community’s attitude toward drug use during these meetings, topics such as school district housing and local transportation will also be discussed.