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MUSD steps up pressure on drug use
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Xanax is a prescription drug that is often abused.
Some abusers try to mask Xanax in water to avoid detection.
That may fool some but not highly-trained drug-sniffing dogs.
It is one of the reasons why the Manteca Unified School District board at the suggestion of trustee Stephen Schluer is spending $12,000 to expand the use of drug sniffing dogs for random visits to campuses.
It is part of a bid to further reduce the presence of drugs in schools.
Schluer, a detective with the Manteca Police Department and former school resource officer, knows firsthand of how effective the dogs the district uses through Canine Detection Services are at sniffing out drugs. Currently the service is used on an individual case basis whenever school administrators become aware of an increase of drugs on campuses.
Superintendent Jason Messer made it clear drugs can be a problem and the district does what it needs to do to deal with the problem. That said the numbers of suspensions and expulsions for drug, alcohol and tobacco related offenses are on the low side compared to many nearby districts as well as districts of comparable size.
During the current school year that started in August there have been 107 suspensions and 5 expulsions among the district’s 23,500 students for drug and alcohol offenses. All but 19 were at the high school level. There have been 86 suspensions for possession or use of drugs, 12 for possession or use of alcohol, four suspensions for possession or use of tobacco, three possessions for the sale of drugs, and two suspensions for possession or use of imitation drugs. Three of the expulsions were for the sale of drugs and two were for use or possession of drugs.
Due to the extensive policies and procedures in place to deal with drug-related issued rarely do suspensions and expulsions reach the hearing level as they do in a number of districts as issues and consequences are extensively vetted with parents and guardians.
While Messer believes efforts such as the Q-15 regarding driving and drinking, school resource officers, Red Ribbon Week, and other such endeavors have helped reduce drug issues over the years on Manteca Unified campuses, he said one of the biggest impacts may be society’s changing attitudes toward some illegal substances.
“In many cases the consequences are now much more severe for a student to have drugs on a school campus than elsewhere,” Messer said in reference to relaxed criminal penalties.
Messer noted the board believes having random, unannounced visits on campuses by the drug sniffing dogs will serve as a further deterrent to help further reduce illegal drugs at schools.
The superintendent said students who come to school under the influence are referred to counseling as an intervention.