Two months ago, Trustee Kevin Behr called for the board to examine the increasing availability of drugs at the high school and middle school campuses.
At its regular meeting May 21, trustees heard suggestions from a six-person safety committee assigned to study the problem.
A.C. Jones High School Assistant Principal Victor Ramos — chosen as spokesman for the committee along with Coastal Bend College criminal justice instructor Jarod Bleibdrey, who also teaches history at the high school — outlined seven recommendations:
•The district should ask the Beeville Police Department and the City Council to split an annual salary of $28,000 for a full-time school retention officer (SRO) at the high school.
Currently, the district hires officers to work on their day off.
“There’s no consistency right now,” Ramos said, “Occasionally, (the officers) will have other matters to tend to, this leaving A.C. Jones with no officer at all.”
The advantage of a full-time officer, he says, is that an SRO “would become aware and familiar with the student body.”
During the summer and holidays, Ramos suggested, the officer would report to work at the BPD.
•Enhance the Crime Stoppers program at the high school and extend it to Moreno Middle School.
“We’ve got as big a problem at the middle school, too,” noted Trustee Matt Huie, whose daughter attends Moreno.
•Random drug testing on student athletes and anyone participating in a University Interscholastic League (UIL) event.
•Mandatory expulsion for repeat offenders.
“Currently, A.C. Jones has a zero-tolerance policy toward narcotics and drug use,” Ramos explained. “Any student caught receives a mandatory placement in Disciplinary Alternate Education Program (DAEP).”
•Enhance eduction programs outlining the dangers of drug use throughout the district, possibly conducted by the police officer.
•More random searches at the high school with a trained narcotic-seeking dog.
•Visit other school districts to learn how they combat narcotics.
According to Bleibdrey, Beeville Police Chief Joe Treviño favors the idea of the split salary arrangement.
“The chief says he has always wanted an SRO,” Bleibdrey says. “It would give the police department a juvenile justice specialist. He gets to know all the students in the school.”
BISD Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas told the board that the district could have its own police department if it wished. “I’ve already written grants for one earlier in my career,” she said, “but it’s very expensive.”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.