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Fifth grader brings pot to school

A Clover Valley Elementary School fifth grader has been expelled after coming to school with a small amount of marijuana and attempting to give it to other students to eat.

Clover Valley Principal Ric Packard said that on Jan. 14, a female student brought a small amount of pot, described as smaller than a quarter, and was showing it to other children.

Packard found out about it Jan. 18 when he said he received a call from a parent who said her son had seen the pot.

That child gave Packard the name of several other children who had also seen it. Those children also said one student had eaten some of the pot, he said.

“I determined that one student had taken a pinch of that and put it in his mouth and then spit it out,” Packard said.

Packard said the student told him she had acquired the drug from a 14-year-old friend. The girl was aware of what she had and that it was wrong, he said.

“I’m in my 31st year, and this is the first time I’ve dealt with something like this,” he said.

As required by school district policy, the girl has been expelled from school for the remainder of the year pending an appeal. The student who put the pot in his mouth was suspended for one day, Packard said.

Packard doubted the boy knew what he was doing. “I think he had heard of marijuana, but by talking to him, I think he didn’t know what it was. These are some good kids who made some stupid decisions,” he said.

School District Superintendent Rick Schulte said that this incident is isolated and is not the beginning of a trend.

“I don’t have any evidence that it’s any thing other than an anomaly,” he said.

According to the 2003 Health of Island County report, marijuana use among sixth graders is minimal. In 1998, 4 percent of sixth graders had reported trying pot in the last 30 days. That number halved to only 2 percent in 2000.

By eighth grade, however, those numbers take a turn upward. In 1998, 17 percent of eighth graders had reported trying pot in the last 30 days. By 2002, that number had fallen to 8 percent.

Schulte said that the girl’s expulsion was required by district policy, but safeguards exist that would allow her return to school sooner than a high school student. The fact that she seemed to not know what she was doing was wrong could help her, he said.

“As I understand the story, this student was giving away the marijuana to other students,” he said. “It’s not typical for people to give away marijuana if they know what they are doing. They’re very naive about how to use it.”

The district has a class the fifth graders talk about illegal drugs, but Schulte was not sure if that class had been given yet.

The girl’s parents can appeal to have her readmitted, but she must first have a counselor evaluate her and her parents must write a letter to the district, Packard said.

You can reach News-Times reporter Eric Berto at eberto@whidbeynewstimes.com

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