Fair Lawn Schools Form Drug Task Force 

Fair Lawn Schools Form Drug Task Force 
Posted by FoM on November 17, 1999 at 07:36:53 PT
By Teresa M. McAleavy, Staff Writer
Source: Bergen Record 
Educators who decided in April to make public the findings of a districtwide drug survey are busy enlisting students, parents, and community members in efforts to curb substance abuse.
The district has formed a task force that will explore prevention, intervention, and law enforcement tools to keep kids off drugs.The effort began after a survey of public school students in Grades 4 through 12 found that many young people in Fair Lawn, like their counterparts nationwide, are using or have tried alcohol and drugs.After learning that 18 percent of Fair Lawn's fourth-grade students have tried alcohol, 1 percent cigarettes, and 6 percent inhalants, school district leaders decided they must go beyond merely telling kids to "just say no.""This is a problem attacking all of society, and you cannot solve it with schools alone, parents alone, or law enforcement alone," said Matt Markman, high school student assistance counselor. "You need the whole community involved."Markman asked senior James Laudicina to join the task force's drug intervention committee. The committee's goal is to teach parents about the warning signs of substance abuse and to see that anyone who needs treatment for addiction gets help."Our first goal is to get local businesses to contribute so we can create a fund for people who have to go through drug rehab," said Laudicina, 17. "Most insurance companies won't pay for it, and it costs a lot."Laudicina said he'll be happy to knock on doors for donations. His desire to join the task force was fueled in part by the recent death of classmate Stephen Ciolino Jr.The 17-year-old was killed after a sport-utility vehicle he was a passenger in crashed while going about 70 mph on Plaza Road. The driver had used cocaine moments before the wreck, officials said."This is important because I just don't want to go to another funeral this year -- or ever, for that matter," Laudicina said. "The message to everyone is, 'Don't let Steve die in vain.' "Law enforcement officials would not identify the driver because she is a juvenile. But in the days after the accident, educators and classmates identified her as Rebecca Foy, 17. She has been charged by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office with death by auto, possession of cocaine, driving while intoxicated, and other crimes."There's no question, something like that is an eye-opener for the entire community," Schools Superintendent Robert Byrne said. "It galvanizes the attention of everyone. But at a certain point we have to put it behind us, and look forward to the future."Making sure that the task force has well-defined objectives for years to come is one way to do that, he said. That's why he is asking members of the Fair Lawn Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, local government, law enforcement, and mental health agencies to join the task force."We all need to be involved," said Vicki Lent, who as the mother of two high school students has signed on to chair the task force's parent awareness committee. "Parents need to be as streetwise as the kids are. We're trying to get those who normally don't come out to join, because we all need to wake up to these things." Anonymous results of the American Drug and Alcohol Survey, which has been used in other North Jersey school districts, were compiled by the Rocky Mountain Behavioral Science Institute in Colorado. It asked about types of substances students have tried, the perceived availability of drugs, and where students use alcohol and drugs.In addition to the news about fourth-graders, the survey showed that alcohol had been tried by 35 percent of sixth-graders and cigarettes by 7 percent. None reported using marijuana. Among seventh-graders surveyed, 42 percent had tried alcohol, 2 percent had tried marijuana, and 22 percent had tried cigarettes. Some 59 percent of the students in eighth grade had used alcohol, 11 percent had smoked marijuana, and 35 percent had tried cigarettes.Published: Wednesday, November 17, 1999Copyright  1999 Bergen Record Corp. Related Article:Support Group Helps Suburban Youth Stay Sober - 11/04/99
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