Zero Tolerance in Ketchikan
By Vicki Harsha
October 16, 2006
It is with great interest I have followed the letters regarding
drug use and underage drinking among our young people and the
effect it has on their lives. I whole-heartedly agree that young
people must be taught responsibility and consequences for their
actions; their choices and this may and could affect their future.
The one item I would like to draw attention to in Ms. Newlun's
letter is she mentioned that the Ketchikan community has a "Zero
Tolerance" for drinking. I have to disagree with her, the
State of Alaska may have laws in place for minors arrested, and
the State may have these minors suffer the consequences, but
our community and school board no longer follows that belief.
I also believe that the School District Policy had placed contradictions
in how the policy should be adhered to.
This became apparent to me last year. The drug/alcohol/tobacco
policy at the High School had been changed in the previous 3
years. With the new policy, the athletes that are randomly tested
or caught have a "3 strikes, you're out policy".
I was not aware of this until one of the basketball players,
a stand-out player, was sitting on the bench during the Clarke
Cochrane. I asked someone sitting near to me why, and they mentioned
he had a bad test . I thought it was grades! He had had a
positive urine test, and so he was required to miss some mandatory
games, and possibly, more requirements, before he could play
again, yet I was surprised he was even representing his team
by sitting, in uniform, on the bench. That was the time I realized
that the drug policy had changed with little or no input from
parents, teachers or coaches. Was it just that I was not paying
attention to this, or were the majority of other parents aware
of the policy change?
I called the School District to get a copy of the policy, and
read it quite extensively. I also talked with several coaches
on their viewpoints regarding this change, and some of the coaches
were not aware of it either. I also spoke with a couple of School
Board members who explained why the change was put in place.
Apparently, there are some students who may have trouble keeping
their grades up, or some with a history of drug/alcohol use,
and so the powers that be decided that to keep these kids in
school, the drug policy should be re-structured so that the athletes
that have these problems could get up to three chances to keep
the sport as an incentive to keep them enrolled.
This brings up another thought. There may be the "A"
student who gets cuts from tryouts, and does not make the team,
because of their athletic ability. Yet, the student who struggles
academically may have a history of substance abuse, makes the
team. Doesn't this reward the athletic student and not the "A"
student? Is winning more important than academics? Does this
indicate to these students they only have to strive for better
grades during the season of their sport of choice?
Also, in this new policy, the coaches have an option to stipulate
their own policy. So, maybe a baseball coach might inform both
students and parents, if you are caught once, you will not play.
Whereas, a basketball coach, may adhere to the school board
policy, and give a basketball player a 2nd or 3rd chance? What
does this tell the other students? "Oh it's basketball,
they get special treatment." That is what my student,
who is a wrestler, stated to me!
Part of the reason I feel the new policy contradicts itself is
the fact that a coach may decide, 1 strike, you are out and
the parent can use the policy to fight that coach. I believe
it should be a Zero Tolerance policy. No ifs, ands or buts.
Kayhi is very small, and if one student tests positive, soon,
the majority of the student body is aware of it. This is not
because privacy laws are being broken, it is mostly because the
student who tests positive tells one or two people, and it gets
around. Maybe they are boasting, or maybe they are ashamed.
But, they tell someone. So, the 3 strikes you're out message
is the message being sent to the whole student body of Kayhi.
Has it trickled down to the middle school students and now,
elementary age? At 12 years old, that could be 6th grade!
In order for Ketchikan and this community to have a Zero Tolerance
attitude, it must begin, not only at home, but also in our
schools. There are already laws in the state that the court system
must follow. Read the police report, the court records, some
of these students being charged are 12 years old! And, if you
look at the State Troopers report on any given day, this is not
just happening in Ketchikan, but statewide! It would be interesting
to know what the policies are in other school districts across
the state. Have we as a generation, lowered our expectations
of our children? We cannot do this to our kids.
Received October 13, 2006 - Published October 16, 2006
About: "Raised in Ketchikan, 2 teenagers in Kayhi and parent
volunteer/fundraiser for many sports, community and within the
school district. Interested in other parents opinion of the
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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