Grand County’s East Grand School District discusses drug problems in local schools
January 5, 2017
A drug related incident that occurred on Dec. 15 involving several students from East Grand Middle School (EGMS) and Middle Park High School (MPHS) has sparked significant concern in the Granby community over the past few weeks.
On Tuesday night Jan. 3 the East Grand School District (EGSD) Board of Education met for their first regular meeting in the New Year. The Board discussed a number of topics during the meeting, including recognizing the District's music teachers for their work, discussing plans to meet with other local governing entities to discuss repayment of YMCA tax monies, and the District's final student count for the year.
The majority of discussion Tuesday evening centered on the drug incident from Dec. 15. There were a large number of attendees for the Board meeting, which are typically sparsely attended by the public. Chief Jim Kraker of the Granby Police Department (GPD) was on hand to answer questions posed by the Board of Education.
The discussion Tuesday night started off with EGSD Superintendent Frank Reeves briefly outlining what created the furor.
"On the 15th [of Dec. 2016] we had a student that was hospitalized," Reeves said.
"We thought that maybe it was due to something that had happened at the middle school. We brought in the police. In their investigation we found out it [he cause of the hospitalization] did not happen as a result of anything at the middle school."
Reeves continued, explaining the police investigation into the incident revealed drug transactions had been occurring at both the middle school and high school. "They [investigators] have started piecing a puzzle together, hopefully to find out where the drugs are coming from, source wise, and the avenues they are traveling through to get to our kids," Reeves said.
Reeves explained the District is working to dispel numerous rumors about the incident that developed on social media after the incident occurred on Dec. 15.
"We have to deal with facts," Reeves said.
"We can't deal with rumors. They [rumors] get out into the community and cause a lot of damage."
Reeves explained the District knows enough about what happened to begin enacting some basic forms of discipline on a few students involved.
"We will get through this," Reeves said.
"We want to fix the problem and alleviate it for the future through different programs. But mostly we need to make this a learning experience."
ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM
Reeves explained the District would soon bring in a program called "Act on Drugs". Act on Drugs is a Colorado based drug awareness and prevention program often given to law enforcement, social workers, healthcare workers and others along with students, teachers and school administrators. Act on Drugs will give presentations to students from the EGSD on Jan. 11 and 17.
The Act on Drugs presentation is funded through grant monies and will be presented to the EGSD at no cost. Portions of the presentation will be offered to parents also. Check the EGSD website Monday Jan. 9 for a full schedule of the event.
"From an enforcement standpoint we will bring in [drug sniffing] dogs periodically," Reeves said.
"We will take the appropriate discipline we need to take. We will get it cleaned up."
Reeves added that while he considers the entire incident very unfortunate he is glad the problem "has been brought to light and we are doing something about it."
After Reeves' update the Board of Education posed a few questions to Chief Kraker.
"It is definitely tragic and shocking when you start talking about drug involvement at the middle school level," Chief Kraker said.
"We did make an adult arrest in this case. We identified the chain of the drugs as they filtered through the schools. We have identified to the District and the District Attorney some of the names involved. It is important for us to understand; some of these kid's names ring off as suspects but they are victims. They are children."
Kraker continued to discuss some of the unique drug issues that exist in the modern world, especially in Colorado where marijuana and marijuana infused products are legal.
He outlined the difficulty school administrators face highlighting the fact that most edible marijuana products produce no scent, making them hard to detect.
"The product itself is more dangerous than it was in the past, and it is packaged differently," Kraker said.
"Cola drinks, candy bars; the marketing of it fits perfectly with a seventh grader in terms of what they are looking for."
The Board and meeting attendees discussed a number of follow-up actions the EGSD will be looking into as potential options to address concerns over a drug problem in the local schools. The DARE program was highlighted and Superintendent Reeves said the District is in talks with both the GPD and the Grand County Sheriff's Office about getting a School Resource Officer (SRO). An SRO is a formally trained police officer that works within a school district during school hours while being employed by a police department.
Additionally, school administrators highlighted the Safe 2 Tell program that offers children a confidential option for reporting crimes or drug use. All students within the EGSD are issued student identification cards at the beginning of each year. East Grand Middle School Principal Jenny Rothbeck pointed out the Safe 2 Tell phone number is printed on the back of the student ID cards.