Students in West Virginia's Kanawha County (Charleston) schools could soon be faced with a kiddie drug court if school and law enforcement officials have their way. A similar program in Cabell County (Huntington) has ensnared 40 students so far. The program, if adopted, would mark a significant escalation in the way the school district handles drug violations by students. Under the current policy, students caught with drugs are suspended from school for five days and required to take a drug class.
But under the proposed high school drug court scheme, if a student is caught with drugs, school officials will contact the police, who will bring criminal charges. Then, with the hammer of the law hanging over their heads, students would be offered the "option" of enrolling in the drug court program. Such students would have to take special classes at least once a week, have their academic performance monitored, submit to random drug tests performed by police officials, and follow a weekend curfew. If the students successfully complete the five-month program, the criminal charges would be dropped, but any failure to meet all the program's requirements could result in expulsion from the program and prosecution on the original drug charge.
Now, school officials are working with circuit court judges, parole officers and members of local law enforcement agencies to garner funding for the program. Kanawa County school district Student Affairs Director Sandy Boggs told the Charleston Daily Mail she had found a grant of between $300,000 and $400,000 per year for three years, but is working with police and court officials to work out the specifics of the program before writing the grant proposal.
According to school district officials, last year saw 80 incidents of marijuana-smoking on school property, 45 cases of marijuana possession and 50 cases of "pill popping." Alcohol and inhalants were also a problem, said Boggs.
"We continuously see students getting in trouble with drugs over and over again," she said. "We're always saying we need to do something. This is what we're hoping to do."
Boggs told the Daily Mail that marijuana was the number-one concern for school officials. "It's a major, major problem," she said.