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Hart ponders zero-tolerance policy

• District tries to find best approach to drugs

Posted: May 16, 2008 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 17, 2008 5:01 a.m.
In an ongoing effort to revise and update board policies, the Hart district governing board discussed two key provisions - drug and alcohol abuse and the definition of "zero tolerance" - at its last meeting.

The William S. Hart Union High School district policies are rigid on some points, such as an automatic transfer to another school for drug and alcohol offenses, while giving wide latitude to school administrators for other offenses.

Hart district Superintendent Jaime Castellanos said that some people consider zero tolerance as "black and white," and for others there is some flexibility.

"People define it differently," he said.

For instance, the district's current policy toward a student caught using, in possession of, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a five-day suspension followed by transfer to another school.

"To automatically suspend and transfer a student caught using alcohol - that might not be the best thing for him," said board member Dennis King. "I would like to give principals the right to use their own judgement."

Rancho Pico Junior High Principal Michelle Krantz was at the meeting and told the board that she appreciated the flexibility.

"If we want to serve these kids, we need to do what's best for each kid and that's going to be different for each student," Krantz said.

Sierra Vista Junior High Principal Randy Parker said that as long as there is a serious consequence, it is a deterrent.

"We do look at each individual student, and they are all quite different," Parker said. "We appreciate having the flexibility, and we appreciate the fact that you trust us with these important decisions."

Board member Patricia Hanrion also felt that more flexibility should be provided to the school principals and site administrators.

"It's your job as an administrator to do what's best for the student, and that may not be the same thing from case to case," Hanrion said.

No action was taken, and the board will continue to discuss board policies at future meetings.

"This is just the beginning of the dialogue," said board president Gloria Mercado-Fortine.


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