The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has initiated an effort to relieve what it perceives as a drug problem in the county's schools.
On Monday the board authorized supervisors John P. Shacochis (R-Dinesville) and Marie B. Travesky (R-Springfield) to work out specific proposals for forming a committee of school and police officials and citizens groups to investigate drug use and distribution in schools.
Shacochis brought up the problem of drug use in the schools by telling the board that a young police officer who patrols schools in his district came into his office last week. The police office complained of frustration "becausehe doesn't have the tools to do anything about the drug problem," Shacochis said.
Shacochis said that police cannot distinguish between students and unauthorized visitors on school campuses during school hours. He said the police should work closely with schools to "tighten up" regulations governing who allowed on school property during school hours and suggested that all visitors be met by the persons they are visiting at the school.
"The problem is bigger than people are aware of and it's a countywide problem," Shacochis said in an interview. "But everyone has been trying to sweep it under the rug and that's got to stop. Too many young people are being hooked."
Travesky said "many school principals are as frustrated (about the drug problem) as the police," but the problem is difficult to control because of the "continual movement of people in a large institution." She suggested that the supervisors exert "the leadership to solve the problem" by appointing an investigate committee.
Fairfax schools associate superintendent William J. Burkholder said in a telephone interview that Shacochis "spelled out the problem pretty well."
Burkholder said school officials have discussed the problem with school principals on many occasions and "encouraged them to be alert to the problem."
"It's difficult identifying the culprits," Burkholder said. "You have to recognize drugs are being sold or passed, and you have to be on the spot to observe a transaction. School officials have the same problem the police do."
Burkholder said drug use in the schools has not seen "a sudden, dramatic increase" in the last 10 years, but "it would be inaccurate to say the problem has gone away. It's there, and it's recognized as being there."