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School Anti-Drug Programs in Place

April 18, 1993

As the superintendent of schools for the Huntington Beach Union High School District, I would like to respond to your editorial, "When the Schools Go to the Dogs (April 1)." I agree with your comment the schools should "concentrate on alternative ways of discouraging young people from taking drugs that are both illegal and that drain the promise out of their young lives."

The Huntington Beach Union High School District has developed strong educational programs as well as parent and community support groups over the last several years. The instructional staff has developed extensive units on drugs, alcohol and tobacco in our health science classes required for graduation. Each campus has a student assistance team which pools all of the available resources and personnel to deal with student problem behavior in all areas including drugs and alcohol. In addition, the campuses sponsor positive alternative clubs, activities, sports programs, music and theater groups, which provide after-school opportunities for students throughout the school year.

Parents and community representatives in 1987 formed a NODS (No on Drugs in Schools) Advisory Board dedicated to the elimination of alcohol and other drugs from the campuses and communities. The community groups have assisted with the planning and financial support for school events and activities such as Red Ribbon Week, Peer Assistance Leagues, alternative activity programs called Friday Night Live, and drug-free activities called Youth to Youth. The city governments of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Westminster have identified and posted all campuses as "Drug Free Zones" and stepped up enforcement.

In spite of their comprehensive approach to a complicated problem, it was apparent to our Board that the district programs will not be highly successful unless a very hard, no-use message is delivered and there is an absolute zero tolerance of drug and weapons on our campuses. The board on Tuesday supported the canine program, clearly communicating to students and non-students that if they violate board policy, state, federal, or local laws pertaining to these issues, the district will avail itself of every legal means possible to create a safe, drug- and weapon-free environment where students can learn and, most important, will be safe.

DAVID J. HAGEN

Superintendent

Huntington Beach

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