Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Five Sykesville Middle students arrested for pot

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Sykesville Middle School administrators spoke with students Thursday about the dangers of drugs and their consequences after police arrested five students at the school for marijuana possession over the last three weeks.

The incidences occurred during the school day. The Sykesville Police Department arrested two students on Jan. 11 and three students on Jan. 29 for possessing marijuana on school grounds, said Police Chief John R. Williams Jr.

The children were released into the custody of their parents and charges were referred to the Department of Juvenile Services, Williams said.

The students were suspended, said Principal Thomas P. Eckenrode, adding some of the students were recommended for an extended suspension.

Eckenrode would not specify how long the students would be suspended nor would he say how much marijuana the students had.

Influence from an older teenager in the community appeared to have played a part in why the students had marijuana, he said, adding he was not sure whether the older teen is a student at an area school.

Eckenrode, his two assistant principals and the school’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer spoke to students Thursday about the situation and the dangers of drugs, he said.

The school also sent home a letter to parents that day, explaining what happened and urging them to talk to their children about drugs.

‘‘It’s pretty powerful as a principal hearing the Miranda rights being read to a kid,” Eckenrode said.

Drug possession at Sykesville Middle is not a common occurrence, he said. ‘‘Every now and then it crops up. We haven’t had anything in a couple of years.”

Dana Falls, Carroll County Public Schools director of Student Services, said the school system has a ‘‘zero tolerance” drug policy.

For first-time offenders, students could be suspended, charged by police or the Department of Juvenile Services and referred to drug and alcohol treatment.

Falls said the school system contracts with Junction, Inc. to provide drug and alcohol treatment to students, but parents may petition for their child to receive treatment elsewhere.

Junction Inc., 98 N. Court St., Westminster, is a substance abuse treatment center for adolescents.

Once a student completes treatment, they are eligible to return to school, he added.

‘‘We look at the substance abuse issue as we do most issues — there needs to be appropriate consequences to change behavior, but the biggest thing is that we want to help the students,” he said.