Federal drug-control agencies urge schools to help students who use drugs, not just toss them off campus.
Guidelines in a report released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy a few years ago urged treatment and counseling for high school drug users, rather than simply suspending or expelling them.
“The goal is to say we believe we can do a better job of making kids healthy,” said John Walters, who directed the office.
The report said that kicking students out of school without treatment can create “drug-using dropouts,” which is an even bigger problem.
The advice challenges policies in many districts that automatically suspend or expel students caught with drugs.
Kathleen Lyons, spokeswoman for the National Education Association, said her group would back those guidelines.
“That's what we would endorse, helping kids, not simply punishing them,” she said.
She added, “It doesn't do anybody any good just to take a drug test and kick the kid out of school — where's he going to go? It doesn't solve anyone's problem and may, in fact, worsen it.”
Reasonable people can disagree, but I believe this approach makes a lot of sense as we continue to help students overcome drug dependence and pursue healthy lifestyles.