Schools contribute greatly to the prevention effort by taking a stand against underage drinking, smoking and other drug use through clear school policies indicating the unacceptability of this behavior among students. School policies should have at minimum the following components:
- stated purpose, (PURPOSE)
- clear no use message, (RULES)
- consequences for use, possession, (CONSEQUENCES)
- procedure for supporting students who seek help for a substance abuse problem (SELF REFERRAL), and
- consequences for families who serve alcohol. (FAMILIES)
In order for a school policy to be effective it must communicate a clear stand against the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Alcohol, tobacco or other drug use by a student is not only illegal, it also undermines the educational process for the student and those around them. An initial statement reflecting the school’s commitment to providing a safe and healthy learning environment is a good way to communicate the importance and purpose of a comprehensive alcohol, tobacco and other drug policy.
SAMPLE #1: PURPOSE As an institution of learning XX school is committed to providing an environment in which students can further their own intellectual, social, moral and physical development and in which students and instructors can work together in pursuit of knowledge and understanding. XX school believes that a student’s health and well being are essential elements necessary for optimal learning. We believe that the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs during adolescence is unhealthy and dangerous and undermines the learning process.
SAMPLE #2: PURPOSE XX school is committed to providing a safe, healthy environment for its community. Student involvement with alcohol, tobacco, or other illegal substances poses serious safety and health risks to the student involved, as well as others in the school community, and adversely affects educational and extracurricular programs. XX school also has the obligation to abide by society’s laws and require its students to do the same.
An effective alcohol and drug policy will provide specific expectations for students and families regarding alcohol, nicotine and other drugs. Students are expected to comply with school rules at all times. Infractions of school rules include, but are not limited to:
- Use of alcohol, tobacco or any other illegal drugs
- Use of any prescription drug without proper medical prescription
- Possession of alcohol, any illegal drug, or any legal drug without proper medical prescription
- Possession of alcohol/drug paraphernalia
- Selling alcohol, any illegal drug, or any prescription drug
- Misuse of any over-the-counter medication
SAMPLE: RULES The following rules shall be used by XX school when responding to a student’s involvement with alcohol, tobacco or any other mood altering substance. Our school rules in this critical area of alcohol and other drug use are motivated not only by respect for the law but also by a genuine concern for the physical, psychological and emotional well being for all its students. The possession, purchase, acceptance, consumption (use), whether actual or attempted, OR being in the presence of alcohol, or any illegal drug, drug paraphernalia or other substance by the students on XX school campus or at any other school-sponsored activity/event at any time or place is prohibited.
Students found in violation of the rules prohibiting involvement with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs may be suspended or dismissed from the school. Some examples of consequences are:
- Suspension from all school activities for 3 to 5 days. The student is responsible for all academic work. If a student has a second violation within 24 months of the initial violation, the student will be dismissed from the school.
- Completion of a Substance Abuse Assessment. The results of the assessment must be shared with the school. The student and family must agree to follow the recommendations of the assessment.
- Distribution or attempt to distribute illegal drugs or any paraphernalia will automatically render the student liable for expulsion.
- Any student violating the school’s rules must, as a condition of staying at the school, agree to a minimum of three meetings (at the parent’s expense) with a professional counselor in the field of substance use/abuse. The student and family must be willing to follow the recommendation(s) set forth at the end of the three sessions.
- Any student strongly suspected of drug use may be required to sign a “Non-Use” contract and submit to random urine testing as a condition of remaining at the school. A drug test confirmed positive would result in a dismissal.
SAMPLE: CONSEQUENCES A student who violates the alcohol, tobacco and other drug rules outlined above will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include expulsion, regardless of the student’s previous disciplinary record. In addition, a student who violates the above policy may be required to undergo drug/alcohol counseling. Any student who chooses to remain in the presence of someone engaging in any prohibited activities may also be subject to disciplinary action.
Any student found in violation of the school’s alcohol, tobacco and other drug policy will:
- receive xx number of days suspension from school;
- have a professional evaluation related to substance abuse issues and dependency by an agency or a person acceptable to the school. The cost shall be paid by the parent(s) and a written confidential report prepared and turned over to the school and the parent(s);
- participate in an alcohol/drug education or counseling session if recommended;
- with his/her parents, meet with the Head of the School and Dean before the student is allowed to re-enter the school.
It is important to encourage students who believe they need help with alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use to seek assistance from the school. A student who has developed a substance abuse problem needs professional help. A student who seeks help from a school counselor, administrator or teacher should not be disciplined as long as the referral occurs prior to a drug or alcohol violation.
SAMPLE #1: SELF REFERRAL Any student who takes the responsibility to seek help for his, her or another’s use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs will be supported by the administration, faculty and staff. XX school encourages all students and family members to seek appropriate help for the student’s use, abuse and or dependence on alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. The school has in place names and numbers of several substance abuse professionals. XX school will observe strict confidentiality and do all that is possible to enable the student and families to get the help that they need and are seeking.
SAMPLE #2: SELF REFERRAL Sometimes students and families recognize a problem of chemical dependence and seek appropriate steps to get help. In cases where the student and family come to the school indicating such a problem exists, the school and family will work together to assess the student’s particular need and seek resources to help. Each case will be handled on an individual basis and will involve an individual contract.
Studies have indicated that the likelihood of a teen using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs decreases the more that the child believes usage would upset his or her parents. Parents in partnership with schools can work together to eliminate tolerance of young people using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. A strong message to parents in the school policy regarding alcohol and other drugs will play a critical role in helping students avoid use.
SAMPLE #1: FAMILIES Families are reminded that making available any form of alcoholic beverage to minors is illegal in the state of _____. Families who make available any form of alcoholic beverages or other controlled substances to students are in violation of the substance abuse policy. Infractions may result in the family being asked to withdraw from the school community.
SAMPLE #2: FAMILIES XX school is committed to educating its community about the personal and world issues of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Through education and clear policies the school hopes to counter the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Parents are the key to helping their kids say NO. Each year parents receive educational programs and information that they are expected to review with their children. At the beginning of each school year, parents are invited to take a SAFE HOME PLEDGE. Parents promise that they will not allow alcohol to be served to students in their homes, that they will not allow alcohol and drugs to be brought into their homes, and that parties or gatherings in their homes will be supervised. Infractions may result in the family being asked to withdraw from the school community.
Some schools are taking a stand regarding behavior of their students when the students are not on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event. The understanding is that students represent the school at all times.
SAMPLE: OFF CAMPUS BEHAVIOR- Regardless of whether or not a student is on campus or involved in a school-sponsored activity, students enrolled in XX school are not to engage in the use, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs or alcohol, and are not to abuse over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Regardless of age, students are not allowed to use any form of tobacco on school grounds or at any school function.
A private party held off campus is not a school-sponsored event. The school cannot be held responsible for supervision or enforcement of its rules on substance use at private parties. Supervision and enforcement at such events is the responsibility of parents and police. XX school reserves the right to take disciplinary action, however, when a student’s actions or conduct at a private party or anywhere else bring discredit to the school. Examples would be vandalism, property damage, violence or illegal behavior that gives rise to a medical emergency or a police response. The host of a private party where such behavior occurs, as well as other involved students, will be subject to disciplinary action if the matter comes to the attention of the school.
About 13 percent of the nation’s high schools have a drug testing policy in place to test students for illegal or prohibited substances according to a survey conducted jointly by the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) and the National Center for Drug Free Sports, Inc. A written drug-testing policy requires a clear explanation of the regulations and procedures involved.
SAMPLE- DRUG TESTING XX school reserves the right to drug and/or alcohol test students at any time, for any reason. All parents or legal guardians of students and/or students over the age of majority will be required to sign the Chemical Screening Consent Form prior to any drug or alcohol test as a condition of enrollment and as part of the educational contract with the school. Said consent is deemed valid for the entire school year.
In the event of a positive drug test, a Medical Review Officer (MRO) will review all positive results. All positive drug tests will be confirmed using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) or an equivalent method. The student and/or legal guardian will receive written notice of a positive test result within five days of a positive confirmed test result from the lab, and they have five days to contest or explain the positive test result. If the explanation to the MRO is unsatisfactory, the positive test result will be reported to the Headmaster.
If a student tests positive, he/she will be suspended from school for xx days, incur a xx suspension from extra-curricular activities, be referred to evaluation, assessment and/or rehabilitation. If a student tests positive a second time, he/she will be expelled (or will be liable for expulsion).
All information, test results, or other materials received by the school in operation of this substance abuse program are confidential.