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December 27, 2012

Zero-tolerance policy leads to crackdown on drugs, weapons

— The number of drugs and weapons infractions for 2012-13 is on pace to double last year’s total as the Limestone County Board of Education enforces a zero-tolerance policy in an effort to increase student safety and decrease drug use on high school campuses.

Records show a total of 23 drugs or weapons infractions were processed by the Central Office during the fall semester, including 12 for drugs and 11 for weapons, at the school system’s six high schools.

By comparison, a total of 32 drugs or weapons violations were reported during the 2011-12 school year, including 27 for drugs and five for weapons.

Two schools — Tanner and Ardmore — did not have any drug-related violations reported to the Central Office for the fall semester. West Limestone had five incidents, Clements four, East Limestone two and Elkmont one.

East Limestone did not report a weapons violation for the fall semester, but Ardmore (four), Clements (three), West Limestone (two), Elkmont (one) and Tanner (one) recorded at least one incident involving a weapon.

During the 2011-12 school year, each high school had at least two drug-related infractions, while Ardmore, Clements, East Limestone and Tanner reported zero weapons violations.

Zero-tolerance

Superintendent Dr. Tom Sisk, who was hired in June, has repeatedly stated that violations of the school board’s drug, weapons and fighting policies would result in an automatic student hearing with the school board at the Central Office.

In some instances this fall, the infractions dealt with items that might not be considered a deadly weapon or an illegal drug by a student but were represented as a narcotic or a weapon, such as oregano or a stun gun.

A school disciplinary committee handles many of the policy violations. However, expellable offenses require a student hearing with the seven-member school board.

Drugs, fighting and weapons infractions are Class III violations, and penalties include suspension, transfer to the alternative school and expulsion, according the Code of Conduct in the 2012-13 student handbook.

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