Please consider the following: the drugs today are far more powerful and easily accessible than in the past. Further, we know that many drugs, including opioids, are available in our community. The Hopewell Township Police have administered NARCAN, the overdose reversal drug, seven times in the past 18 months. Over the past three years, our community has experienced the overdose deaths of several young adults. At Central High School, we have seen an increase in students under the influence of marijuana, prescription drugs and/or alcohol. We have also found students under the influence in our middle school. While we have not found any students in possession of opioids, the powerful drug Fentanyl was recently found on school property.
Our district has wrestled with how we can better protect our students, and after careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that we need to take stronger steps. After the new year, I will recommend to the Board of Education that our District develop a random substance screen policy for students in grades 9 -12 and target it to commence beginning September, 2018. My intent for this policy is a philosophical shift from a reactive, punitive approach to a more proactive, therapeutic model. Similar policies have been in place in other local districts for over a decade and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
I recognize that this is a significant shift for our school district, and I share this information well in advance of any formal Board action in an effort to be transparent and not to shy away from this difficult topic. While some individuals may be uncomfortable with this direction, if this policy can save one student from traveling down a dangerous path, give one student a reason to say no, or help one student get early help, it is worth it.
Prior to a policy being adopted by the Board, I will schedule two public information sessions this spring where details of the proposed policy and the process we will use will be shared. We have developed the attached attached Frequently Asked Questions to answer any initial questions you may have. If you have questions or concerns, I ask that you attend one of these sessions.
Thomas A. Smith, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools