Archive for Wednesday, September 27, 2006

District suspends two students for alleged use of marijuana

September 27, 2006

Two Tonganoxie High football players did not play Friday against Mill Valley, because school officials suspected them of using marijuana earlier that day.

Mike Vestal, Tonganoxie police dispatcher, said he received a call Friday from a school official informing the police that the two students, who are juniors at THS, allegedly had been using marijuana. Vestal said he received the call between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.

¢ Because of inaccurate information given to The Mirror, a story in the Sept. 20 issue of the newspaper contained an error.

¢ Not all students involved in the sale of the prescription drug hydrocodone completed their suspensions.

¢ Tonganoxie High School principal Tatia Shelton said four of the six freshmen have returned, while the other two still are not back in school.

¢ Two of them admitted to police that they distributed the drug, which also is known as Vicodin. Shelton declined to say which of the students were in school and which students still were not in school.

Although school officials contacted the police about the incident, Tonganoxie police Chief Kenny Carpenter said the police were not involved in the case.

"This particular case is being handled by the school," Carpenter said. "They did notify law enforcement, but no report was filed. Due to particular circumstances, the police department didn't get involved, and it's being handled at the school."

Carpenter wouldn't specify what those particular circumstances were.

THS principal Tatia Shelton declined to comment on the issue, while school Superintendent Richard Erickson had little to say.

"We're dealing with issues," Erickson said. "That's a student issue and I don't really have anything to say about that right now."

The two players did not play against Mill Valley and will not play this Friday against Santa Fe Trail, THS coach Mark Elston said Monday. According to the school's substance abuse policy for activities and athletics, which parents and students are required to sign, students are not to use alcoholic beverages or tobacco. They also are not allowed to possess, consume, distribute or purchase controlled substances, such as marijuana, or misuse prescription or non-prescription drugs.

In addition, the policy states that a school administrator will conduct a hearing with the student about the possible violation.

If it's found that a violation occurred, the policy says, the administrator may suspend students for as little as two weeks from activities and games. Or the students can be suspended from practices and games through the end of the school year, which would be July 31.

Elston said the policy was fair.

"It gives them a one-time opportunity to screw up and a one-time opportunity to get things corrected," Elston said. "I would not be in favor of one that's less tolerant, but not in favor of one that would totally ban those kids. Because idle time to kids is most commonly trouble.

"Those kids need to remain involved in their activities, whether it be football, band or cheerleading, or whatever. It's a proven fact. Once they're involved in something, they're much more likely to be involved in the right thing instead of the wrong thing."

Earlier this month, six freshmen were suspended when it was discovered that two of them were distributing the prescription drug hydrocodone, a pain-reliever also known as Vicodin, to the other four. Although school officials declined to say which students have returned to school, Shelton did say that four of them are back, while the other two still are suspended.

Elston said three freshmen football players were involved in that incident, but all three are back in school. They were in uniform for Friday's game, but did not play.

Although Tonganoxie has experienced two recent cases surrounding drugs and students, Carpenter said that hasn't been the norm in the Tonganoxie school district.

"We figure there's always a possibility there's drug use in any school," Carpenter said. "But it's really not a problem as it is in some schools. But we would be naÃive to think there is no drug activity at all.

"Every town in the United States is going to have illegal drug use. You don't hide from that."

Away from school, but just to the east of the high school football complex, is Chieftain Park. Carpenter said police have heard that the park is a place where marijuana use is prevalent.

According to Carpenter, though, it's never been confirmed.

"We've heard been rumors of drug activity, but that's all we have is rumors," Carpenter said.

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