Message sent March 11, 2022
Good afternoon West Shore students, staff, and families,
Learning is most effective when schools are safe and welcoming environments for all students and staff. Like other districts across the nation, we have seen an increase in fighting, disrespect, and substance abuse since our return to school this year. Today, I want to provide you with some important updates on our continued efforts related to school safety and substance abuse.
Since Fall 2021, the Board of School Directors and Administration have discussed multiple strategies to address student behavior and safety, particularly at our middle and high schools. Most notably, we have been exploring the addition of school security personnel.
In the coming weeks, the Administration will seek approval by the Board to hire School Security Guards
for each of our secondary schools. School Security Guards, as defined by Pennsylvania law, are assigned, to a school “for routine safety and security duties.” While we anticipate these individuals will have prior law enforcement background and training, they will also receive mandatory training pertinent to their work in schools such as the Basic School Resource Officer Training, Act 235 certification, Safe Crisis Management, Incident Command Training, etc.
While the School Security Guards will be armed with the necessary equipment to maintain safety and order for both day to day concerns and major incidents, our schools will continue to engage with our local police departments. We are grateful for the existing strong partnership with all our local law enforcement officials and hope that by providing School Security Guards we can build on those existing relationships and cultivate a positive school climate for students, staff, and families.
Over the last several years, there has been a significant increase in the use of electronic smoking devices for vaping tobacco and nicotine by middle and high school students. Now, students are regularly using these electronic smoking devices to vape marijuana and other drugs.
Earlier this week, two Red Land High School students were determined to be under the influence of THC during the school day. Due to their condition, 911 was called, and an ambulance responded to provide assistance. THC was the only known substance vaped by the students. A third student was found in possession of drug paraphernalia and an illegal substance.
Yesterday, three Cedar Cliff High School students were found in possession of vape pens, drug paraphernalia, and/or an illegal substance.
As is being reported locally and nationally, more and more instances of vape pens containing THC, and altered with more dangerous and potentially life-threatening substances, are being discovered during police investigations. I share this information not to create panic, but to make sure families are aware that drugs are here, in our own school community.
Board Policy 226: Searches
authorizes the use of trained dogs to detect illegal drugs and other controlled substances, among other things. In the coming weeks and months, we intend to exercise this authority in all of our secondary schools in an effort to eliminate drugs and other controlled substances from our schools.
Student Discipline & Assistance
In addition to any legal or criminal consequences, Board Policy 218: Student Discipline
outlines the disciplinary consequences and interventions which result following violations of District expectations for student conduct.
Discipline is a useful deterrent, but our primary objective is to ensure all West Shore students receive the help they need. Each secondary school has a Student Assistance Program (SAP), whose mission is to identify, intervene, refer, and monitor students having school related problems due to alcohol, drugs, and/or mental health issues. The Student Assistance Team (SAT) receives referrals from parents, students, teachers, administrators, and other concerned school personnel. Our school staff are here to help, and if you would like to make a referral, please contact your child's school principal, nurse, or school counselor.
In addition to the work already being done in our health classes and through existing school programs, such as T.E.A.M. (Teaching, Educating and Mentoring), building Administration will once again be providing student assemblies that address a variety of topics such as substance abuse, bullying, disrespect, motivation, resilience, etc.
There is one more opportunity to join us for an adult-only workshop, "Drugs 101: What Parents Need to Know," which is being held on March 31 at 6:30 pm. at Allen Middle School. I encourage you to attend this workshop to learn the signs, symptoms, and current trends relative to the use of tobacco/vaping, alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, heroin, and synthetic drugs by teenagers. Details about the workshop can be found on the District website at: https://bit.ly/WestShoreParentWorkshop
If you are unable to attend the workshop, but interested in learning more, the following are some websites that you may find helpful.
I want to end by thanking our students who continue to be engaged and respectful to each other, staff, and our buildings. I see your positive contributions to our school community, and I am proud of how you are representing the District, your school, and your family. I also want to express my gratitude to our teachers, administrators, counselors, and other staff for their hard work and resilience.
School safety is a shared responsibility, and it will take all of us working together to make the changes we want and need to see in our schools.
Todd B. Stoltz, Ed.D.