School drug busts a growing trend

Within the past three weeks, four South Whidbey High School students have been arrested in school for possessing illegal narcotics.

The incidents, which involved the alleged possession and use of cocaine and marijuana, are the latest in a school year that has seen drug busts at the school increase in number and frequency.

According to school officials, the 10 busts at the high school during the first 90 days of the school year equal the total number during the previous school year. Not all of the incidents occurred on school grounds, according to school administration.

That number compares with the 10 to 15 so far this year at Oak Harbor High School.

The first of the two recent incidents occurred Jan. 30. School staff detained two freshman girls for using what is believed to be cocaine in a school locker room.

"One student admitted it was cocaine and that she was using because of personal problems," said Jan Smith, spokeswoman for the Island County Sheriff's office.

Smith said the students were apparently caught in the locker room before class. They were released into their parents' custody. The substance was sent to the Washington State Patrol lab for testing.

In a more recent incident, two students were discovered in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia on Feb. 3. Smith said that the case has been referred to juvenile court.

School Principal Mike Johnson said that in both case students were dealt with according to the school's policy on substance abuse.

"The policy is students are sent home with a loss of credit," he said this week. "They may return after five days if they agree to drug and alcohol counseling."

While substance abuse cases at South Whidbey High School have occurred at intervals among the school's 740 students, Oak Harbor Police have had to deal with spurts of in-school activity among that city's 1,750 high school students.

John Little, the officer assigned patrolling Oak Harbor High School, the school recorded five substance abuse violations..

"It seems to run in spurts here," he said. "Out of the five last week, three admitted to using marijuana and one student was found to be using prescription medication."

At South Whidbey High School Island County Sheriff deputies are called when evidence of illegal drug possession and use is discovered.

These latest cases at South Whidbey have Mike Johnson concerned.

"It's a problem and we are working to reduce and minimize drug and substance abuse here," he said. "As a staff we are looking at things we can do to work with families and the community to address this problem."

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