Local News

School Board disagrees on drug distribution issues

SEBRING - Should a student selling drugs for a profit face the same consequences as a student distributing or passing a drug to a fellow student?

School board members disagreed on the matter recently and also discussed whether by policy all students should face a school board expulsion hearing when they distribute or sell drugs on a school campus.

The discussion was prompted Tuesday as the board prepared to vote on the expulsion recommendations, which included a Sebring High Student with a possession and distribution of marijuana infraction who was recommended to attend the Academy program in lieu of being expelled.

Some students facing discipline are given the option of attending the Academy Program or expulsion from school. The Academy Program has a boot camp component and an educational component so students can continue with their studies.

A Sebring Middle School student, with an assault on a school board employee infraction, was also recommend for the Academy program.

School Board Member Donna Howerton said she believed that "distribution and intent" matters would be brought to the board in a hearing.

"I myself as a board member feel that both of those should possibly come before us," she said. "It's a danger to our other students and I think it should be taken very seriously."

She noted that an earlier distribution incident came before the board in a hearing and the student was assigned to nine weeks in the Academy Program.

The school board should make a policy concerning distribution of drugs, Howerton said.

School Board Member Andy Tuck said the board doesn't have to make a policy, just vote on it.

If the board denies a student going to the Academy then the student will have a hearing before the board, is that correct? he asked.

School Board Attorney John McClure responded "yes."

The board has discussed looking at the Academy program recommendations on a case-by-case basis and removing them from the approval list and making the student come before the board, he said.

School Board Vice Chairman Bill Brantley noted the board was also voting that evening on another serious matter, assault on a school board employee, where the student was recommended for the Academy program.

School Board Chairman Ronnie Jackson said if something is passed from person to person in a carload of kids are they all charged with distribution?

"To me distribution and sales are completely different things," he said. "When you are selling it you are actually trying to gain a profit.

"If you want to bring them all before the board, I have no problem with it."

Jackson said he agreed with Brantley that "assault on a school board employee" is just as bad.

Tuck said he disagreed with Jackson on the distribution matter.

If students are passing it person-to-person that is distribution, he said.

On Friday Tuck said in the past the school board had issues with the distribution of drugs on school campuses.

Discussions have centered on whether distribution is selling drugs or sharing drugs, he said.

"To me there is no difference," Tuck said. "If you bring drugs to school, as far as I'm concerned distributing and selling are the same thing."

Tuck said he remembers, when J. Ned Hancock was a school board member, the board voted 3-2 against the superintendent's recommendation for the Academy program for someone who was selling drugs on a school campus.

At Tuesday's meeting, the board didn't come to a consensus on the issue, he said.