Ravenna, Kent probe drug use

By Micah Panczyk and Julie Pavelich Record-Courie Published:

Eight members of the Ravenna High School Band have admitted to using what they thought was marijuana during a camp held Aug. 11-15 in Trumbull County, said Principal Rich Markwardt. Roughly 120 students attended the camp, the name of which has not been disclosed.

Kent's Theodore Roosevelt High School Principal Judith Kirman declined to specify the type of drugs or the number of students involved in the incident at the school's annual band camp.

About 160 students attended Kent's band camp at a college in western Pennsylvania, said Superintendent Marc Crail, who was not aware of the drug incident.

No student from either school has been charged.

Two other Ravenna High School students are suspected of participating in Wednesday's affair, which came to light after a chaperone found an item used to smoke marijuana _ an item a student had apparently dropped, Markwardt said. A student among the eight who confessed also admitted to possessing a bottle of wine.

No marijuana has been recovered, said Markwardt, who acquired a sample of a substance that circulated at the camp. Ravenna police have determined the substance is not marijuana, Chief Michael Swartout said.

"Some students admitted using what they thought was marijuana," Markwardt said. "Others said point-blank they were using the real thing. Two or three students distributed the drug, but none sold it.

"We want to make clear that, if you take something into your body not knowing what that thing is, then you're taking a real chance," he added.

Ravenna students who smoked the counterfeit substance will be treated no differently than those who smoked marijuana, Superintendent Phil Warner said.

"The only thing required for officials to enforce the student conduct code is a reasonable suspicion," he said. "This matter is a serious concern for both Ravenna schools and the community in which they exist."

Kirman said Roosevelt officials are investigating the incident, "but it had nothing to do with the use. It was not at the same camp as the Ravenna students, and we don't know how many students were involved."

Crail said "Whenever you take high school-age students on an overnight trip, there is the risk that somebody's going to screw up.

"It's not that the band director or (chaperones) didn't diligently do what they could ....it's something boards of education and principals always see as a challenge."

In Ravenna, hearings concerning repercussions continue. The school's conduct code specifies that students caught possessing or using marijuana or a counterfeit substance during school functions receive a five-day, out-of-school suspension with a referral for counseling at an accredited agency. If the student or his parents are averse to counseling, then the student receives a 10-day suspension.

The code also states that students caught selling and/or distributing the drug receive a mandatory 10-day suspension and are recommended for expulsion, which can last from 11 to 80 days. In addition, such students are referred to a counseling agency and juvenile court and a report is filed with Ravenna police, Markwardt said.

"Most of the students involved are good kids who exercised bad judgment," he said. "I admire those who have come forward to admit this error and assume the consequences. But, at the same time, we have to act swiftly and appropriately. We cannot condone this behavior."

Counseling and guidance for students who participated are the

administration's primary concern, Markwardt said.

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