School pursues marijuana crackdown

March 23, 2009 — by Brian Kim

Several students are facing suspension or expulsion after a recent crackdown on the use and sale of marijuana on campus. The investigation has led to a lot of rumor and worry among students and parents.

Because of privacy laws, the administration was able to provide only a few details about the investigation. Earlier this month, principal Jeff Anderson sent an e-mail that informed parents about the situation.

“In Saratoga, people hear stuff pretty quickly,” said Anderson in an interview. “We’ve recently had evidence that indicates that [drug sale and use] is happening and we’re dealing with it, but I mainly wanted parents to know how their kids are doing and that they should check in with them. They see their students at home and may have some insight that might help prevent a problem.”

He said possible punishments include suspensions for the use of drugs while students are on campus and expulsions for students caught dealing drugs.

Many students have expressed concern that the investigation is including searches of their lockers, backpacks and cell phones. But Anderson said students should have no expectation of privacy while on campus.

“As it’s parents’ rights to go through their students’ stuff, with reasonable suspicion that they may have something that is against school rules or is illegal, [the school] can search their locker or their backpack when they’re on school grounds,” said Anderson. “[Students] have less privacy rights as a citizen at school than if they were in their community.”

He said that parents and students should also note that cars are also searchable under reasonable suspicion.

“The main thing is that if [evidence] connects you to the school, you’re under the umbrella of the school rules,” said Anderson. “When we get information on the act, we can react to things we see and hear and information that is provided for us.”

He said the use of drugs is a suspendible offense if it is done on-campus. The distribution of illegal substances, however, requires a more thorough disciplinary procedure, involving action from both the administration and the district.

“It’s an offense that mandates that we put the student up for expulsion,” said Anderson. “[A district panel] decides whether or not that person ultimately would get expelled. There are a variety of things that the expulsion panel can decide that I have no control over.”

Despite the school’s efforts, some students feel the investigation has gotten out of hand.

“I think it’s stupid how they are calling in random people,” said junior Aditya Joshi. “Some of them don’t even have a connection with drug use.”

Some students feel that the consequences are not helpful for an ongoing situation as this.

“The school isn’t handling the drug problem well,” said senior Hana Pruzansky. “It’s gotten worse and worse in the past two years. Expelling kids isn’t helping, but having drug counseling programs would help.”

Anderson believes that the administration is not as severe as some other districts but is still efficient in handling such issues.

“While we know things go on, we know that relative to other places, [the drug problem] is not as extensive,” said Anderson. “Knowing how to be proactive but not invasive can be a challenge. We definitely do not sweep anything under the rug.”

The administration advises students to be more wary of their actions.

“I would encourage students to realize the long-term ramifications of their actions and know that as a school, if were confronted with information about something that is going on campus, we have no other choice but to deal with it,” said Anderson. “It’s not a happy situation to be dealing with, but it’s a reality.”

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