MOUNT VERNON — In an effort to guard the health, safety and well-being of the students in their districts, educational facilities in the area have a zero tolerance policy with regard to the possession, use and sale of drugs, look-alike drugs and alcohol on school grounds. Usually when school officials discover a violation of that policy, law enforcement personnel are notified, whether the student is a first-time or repeat offender. Some students and their parents believe school officials, while not condoning the behavior, should be more lenient with first-time offenders.
One of those students, referred to here as “Harold” to protect his identity, shared his experience with the News.
A 14-year-old who was never in trouble before, had good attendance and earned all A’s and B’s on his report cards, Harold gave in to curiosity one day and thought he would experiment and see what smoking marijuana was like.
“I wanted to try it,” he said. “I bought it. I got caught.” He did not attempt to smoke the substance and had a clean drug test.
Harold said the person(s) to contact if one wants drugs is an open secret among the Mount Vernon High School students, and more than one person offered to “take care of it” for him.
“Four or five people came up and said, ‘Oh dude, I didn’t know you smoke,’” he continued. “I said, ‘I don’t. I just want to try it’ and they said, ‘I can totally hook you up tomorrow.’ I said, ‘OK.’”
Harold explained what happened next.
“I had given one of my friends $10 to get me a dime bag of weed, and he gave it to me on a Friday in between fifth and sixth period. We were on our way to sixth period and I saw him in the hallway and he gave it to me. I guess there was a teacher there who saw him giving it to me and she asked to see what I had. She said, ‘Just give it here’ and I gave it to her. It was in a napkin. She opened it up and saw what it was and took me to the office.”
Police officers were called to the school and Harold, along with the his “supplier” and a person who sold the supplier pills, were taken before Knox County Juvenile Court Judge James Ronk and sent to the juvenile detention center in Zanesville for three days. Harold was also kicked out of the high school for the rest of the year and attended the Alternative Center.
“Everyone I know who has gotten caught has been sent to the Alternative Center,” Harold said. “But, as far as I know, me and the other two kids, are the only ones who have gone to jail for it.”
Harold’s mother said she found it interesting that the youths were caught early in the day but the police waited to put them in handcuffs and take them out to the patrol car until the buses were loading. She also said Harold’s legs were shackled for his walk into the courthouse, but another suspect’s were free.
“The kid who didn’t have shackles was selling Vicodin,” Harold said, “which I personally think is worse than buying a little tiny bag of weed.”
“The funny thing is,” said Harold, “it was just the three of us that got in trouble. (Drugs are) pretty wide-spread and I think it happens pretty frequently at the school, mostly pot and prescription drugs. There’s definitely more of a problem than what they’re saying.”
Harold regrets his poor judgment and would advise other students to avoid drugs.