City of Manassas

The following were among actions taken at the May 29 meeting of the Manassas School Board. For more information, call 361-0166.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE -- The number of students suspended for use or possession of illicit drugs or alcohol on school grounds or at school functions has dropped from 14 during the last school year to only three so far this school year, according to the schools' annual substance abuse report presented to the School Board at the meeting.

The report, delivered by Director of School Pupil Personnel Services Nancy Cook, does not include the number of students caught or suspended for using tobacco products, but it did indicate that tobacco smoking may be increasing among students at the high school.

Under the schools' substance abuse policy, any student caught possessing or using drugs, alcohol or tobacco products on school grounds and at school functions may be suspended for 10 days and required to undergo an evaluation and receive substance abuse treatment if necessary.

Of the three students suspended so far this year for substance abuse, two were caught with alcohol and one with marijuana. Two were required to enter substance abuse treatment programs.

While fewer students have been caught with drugs or alcohol at school this year than last, the lower numbers probably do not represent an actual decrease in the numbers of students involved in sustance abuse, according to Cook. Substance abuse generally takes place off school premises, she said.

The decrease also may indicate "that word has gotten around that if you {a student involved in substance abuse} are caught, before you can get back into school, you have to have an evaluation, and if you need it, treatment," said Cook. "And that's heavy."

The report will be submitted to the state Department of Education and included in a statewide schools substance abuse report.