Meth at STHS proves kids are using | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Meth at STHS proves kids are using

William Ferchland, Tribune staff writer

Methamphetamine, a popular illegal drug among South Lake Tahoe adults, is slowly finding its way to the high school level.

This week a 15-year-old was busted for having less than a gram of the drug when a fellow student told South Tahoe High School officials.

He was cited and released by authorities. Depending on his discipline record, he could be either suspended or expelled.

“The methamphetamine, it’s an uncomfortable surprise that our high school kids are getting ahold of,” said Lisa Huard, safe school coordinator for Lake Tahoe Unified School District. “It’s cheap and kids can get ahold of it. They’re getting it from adults. They don’t understand the dangers of it.”

The Web site for SLEDNET, South Shore’s drug enforcement agency, states methamphetamine, like cocaine, stimulates the central nervous system and is the escalating drug threat in America.

District officials said they needed time to calculate the number of drug offenses. Many acknowledged users are getting younger and fault for this lies everywhere: parents, truancy and the drug’s relatively low cost.

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“We can tell there is an increase and any increase at all is reason for concern,” said police Sgt. Brian Williams.

Jack Stafford, STHS associate principal, doesn’t think there is a pattern of finding the drug on campus.

“One time doesn’t mean a trend,” he said. “It’s not typical at the high school.”

By scanning the dispatch calls on the South Lake Tahoe police log, methamphetamine isn’t common on campus. Most drug offenses at STHS center on marijuana possession.

Like this week’s incident, drug possessors are reported by other students.

“That’s where a lot of information comes from,” Stafford said. “Our kids are good about that, they don’t want that on campus.”

Typically, a student’s first drug offense is punished by a suspension. The second is a suspension-expulsion, said Wendy David, LTUSD’s school board president.

“You’re on a very, very short rope of being expelled, but being allowed to stay in school without any more offenses,” David said about the second offense.

A student is expelled for the third offense.

From her work in the court system, David has witnessed a “high percentage” of teenage methamphetamine users.

In Douglas County, locker checks and drug-sniffing dogs make surprise visits to the middle and high schools. Douglas County sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Minister said meth use among teenagers is spotty.

Sgt. Williams was in a Wednesday morning meeting with officials from probation, LTUSD and other agencies. There is an attempt to find grant money to put another school resource officer on campus. Officer Johnny Poland, who tries to be at STHS every day, is stretched too thin on his beat, Williams said.

The other officer, perhaps from probation who could be funded by possible grant money, would work to stop students from skipping school.

“We’re probably focused on the problem of truancy because that is the root of many evils and certainly drug abuse is among that list of problems stemming from truancy,” Williams said.

Huard, the safe school coordinator, thinks the blame lies with parents.

“Parents need to be more proactive,” she said. “One chance and the kid can be dead.”

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.