News Alert
SEASIDE HEIGHTS LIVE: Video Shows How The Beach…

Brick School District's New Drug Policy to Focus on Rehabilitation

Previous policy required only an out-of-school suspension, officials say

Brick Memorial High School. (File Photo: Daniel Nee)
Brick Memorial High School. (File Photo: Daniel Nee)
A substance abuse policy that was purely punitive did little to help prevent students from becoming more involved with drugs and alcohol and had to be changed, school officials said, having introduced a new drug policy last week.

While there may be some minor tweaks before the policy comes up for a final vote before the Board of Education next month, the meat of the policy revision focuses on helping students caught using drugs or alcohol overcome and avoid using such substances in the future rather than pure punishment.

The old policy, Superintendent Walter Uszenski said, left school officials with essentially only one option: a ten-day, out-of-school suspension.

The option was a bad a one, he said.

"The new policy is an in-school suspension with a therapeutic aspect," said Uszenski. "After school hours, the child and the parents can go to get counseling. The student will get immersed in it during the day while still getting instruction, and after school, we recommend strongly that they attend a counseling component with their parents."

The 16-page draft policy includes the details of how the district will deal with cases of students caught using or possessing banned substances, including alcoholic beverages, controlled dangerous substances including anabolic steroids, and inhaled substances or medications that can be used to cause intoxication.

State law dictates much of the policy, including how the district's random drug testing program operates. But after a student, one way or another, is caught with alcohol or drugs, the district came up with its own plan of attack within the confines of the law.

"They had no recourse," said Board of Education President Sharon Cantillo, of students who were sent home for ten days under the old policy. "It was, 'you were found, the police reported you, you're out of here.' I saw the results of what happened to some of those kids. One of them is dead."

The new program provides more of a focus on rehabilitation than simply punishment.

On a first offense, a student will serve a three to five day in-school suspension with mandatory in school counseling, to begin after completion of a medical examination, the policy states. A second or third incident will bring about a five to nine day in-school suspension, and additional offenses will be referred to the superintendent to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Each incident will also mean that the student will be subject to an assessment from the school Student Assistance Counselor, and enrollment in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program if the assessment results indicate that such enrollment is appropriate.

Attendance and progress while enrolled in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program will be monitored by the counselor, who will be obligated to provide parents with information on local programs. If such a program comes with a monetary cost, it will be the responsibility of the students' parents to pay.

Students or parents who refuse to comply with the district's program will be referred to state authorities as the law dictates, the policy states.

A committee of school board members, school staff and Uszenski put the policy together with input from parents in the community, Uszenski said.

"The ultimate goal in this is not punishment," said board member Karyn Cusanelli. "It’s about rehabilitating a student and giving them the best chance possible."

The policy will likely be up for a final vote at the April meeting of the Board of Education.
Melinda Murray April 04, 2014 at 12:43 PM
We do have legal right to expel them without providing services. The state law reads that it is a BOE decision. But there is no age restriction as there once was. The BOE's just do not do it.
WMS826 April 04, 2014 at 09:10 PM
So you think that all school boards around the state just refuse to do this. They are obligated to provide a free education either in school or at a more costly out of district location. See this link for clarification http://www.nje3.org/index.php/districts-obligated-to-educate-even-expelled-students
Melinda Murray April 06, 2014 at 10:48 AM
NO. I feel we should expel them and leave them to their families to worry about. I will get the paperwork from the state out for you. It is clear we can expel these students and NOT give them anything. The problem is that IEP's . Now I'm just thinking this but since a junkie can collect SSD, SSI, And all other free help off our tax dollar, that we will see many more IEP's for student junkies, instead of just for the kids who really do benefit from an IEP. Many BOE members are on boards to as a stepping stone to further political careers. I do not believe this is the case for everyone on every BOE. So politically correct when it comes to students is what they look at. Now what about the clean kid. Those are the ones I worry for. whats protecting them? Where are their rights?
KMC April 06, 2014 at 03:33 PM
This is to Penny. That man who goes to Board of Education meetings has every right to be up there and talk. Whether it is about nothing or not. After reading many of your posts I see that you are a relative of a board member or Administrator. I have been to meetings and yes, although this man goes on and on-he has the right. He is a taxpayer.
WMS826 April 07, 2014 at 11:13 AM
Throw out any violent student and any one caught selling drugs and even using them. Send them to a county school which will house trash and then we will see how tough these kids are in that environment. Let the rest of the kids learn, do well on standardized testing and raise our school system report card.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »