The Harlan Community School District’s Board of Education this week received an update on recently held meetings of the district’s Drug and Alcohol Committee. Superintendent Justin Wagner said fifteen community members gathered on five separate occasions to discuss the issue of drugs and alcohol within the school district. Wagner says the first thing the committee wanted was to create a mission statement.
“That mission statement was ‘to reduce or deter underage drinking and drug use in the Harlan Community School district,’ According to Wagner, who said “We really wanted to focus on the things we can control We felt we do a lot of good things right now. This started back at the survey we sent out to the staff, community and students and they said we would like to see you do more.”
Wagner said the committee discussed at length topics including extending extra curricular activities, mentoring programs, peer pressure, accountability for students, uniforms, parent accountability, attendance and drug testing. “Sometimes when you talk about drug testing, it’s really kind of a tricky conversation because I think there are some well intentions out there, “ Wagner said. He added “We have gotten a lot of support on the drug testing side of it. And it’s not because they want to play gotcha with kids. I think the community and folks want the kids to be safe. We want the kids to know we are saying drugs are not good for you… The way the law reads now, students have to agree to be drug tested. Some people agree or disagree but it boils down to if the student says no I don’t want to be drug tested, then it is unconstitutional and illegal.”
The Drug and Alcohol Community Committee decided on four recommendations: working with the Harlan Police Department on attendance if a child misses five days unexcused absences, extend extra curricular activities, establish a Drug and Alcohol informative class for Middle School students and continue to get information to the media and community regarding drugs and alcohol. No board action was necessary with the recommendations. Wagner said the recommendations are being implemented at this time and most of them will tie into the school district’s handbook for the upcoming school year in the fall.