Behr requested Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas to canvass other school districts to learn what measures they are taking.
He made the request at the end of a routine meeting March 19 under new business, the last agenda item before adjournment.
“I believe we are having continued and substantial use of illegal substances on our school campuses. I’m basing this on information I have received from parents, information I have received as a peace officer.
In addition to his holding a Coastal Bend College division chair in professional and public services, Behr also is a sergeant with the sheriff’s office.
“I also have information I get from my own daughters,” he adds.
Among his concerns about school use of marijuana and cocaine is something relatively new, a synthetic marijuana known as K2.
“It’s worse than marijuana,” Behr says. “At least, marijuana is organic. This stuff is chemical. It’s having adverse effects on people: anger, addiction. And it’s really expensive. You can buy marijuana cheaper.”
What then is its popularity?
“It can’t be picked up on a drug test,” Behr explains, “which is why it also is so popular among the oilfield workers.”
Until recently, K2 was sold over the counter as an incense, as aromatherapy. “It looks like a bunch of chopped-up leaves,” Behr says, “but it is sprayed with a substance that mimics the effects of marijuana.”
Police attribute increases in burglaries and robberies to K2’s higher cost.
Behr says he knows some of the measures that Thomas’ research will reveal, including:
•Establishing a zero tolerance drug policy at the schools.
•Using drug-sniffing dogs more frequently.
•Creating a crime stoppers program at the school, in which students can anonymously tip off authorities on school-ground drug use.
•Increasing drug testing.
•Utilizing undercover officers at the high school.
•The presence of uniformed police officers on campus via a School Resource Office program, by which the officers’ salaries are divided between the district and police department.
An additional advantage of on-campus police officers is in case of a live-shooter incident.
Still, the law restricts the use of some stringent measures.
“Students have rights,” says Dr. Thomas. “We can’t use drug-sniffing dogs on people, only on objects, such as backpacks — unless we have a student’s permission.
And, Behr adds, “we can’t strip search them either. It’s not feasible and there are legal and liability issues involved.”
Behr — who believes he has board backing on his proposal after talking with Thomas and other members before he made his official request — admits that every school district has drug problems. “For me, it’s a matter of quantity.”
What he fears most is the reports of drug use at the middle school.
“That really scares me — kids of that age getting hold of illicit drugs such as pharmaceuticals, cocaine, meth, marijuana and this pseudo-marijuana stuff.”
Still, he is not surprised.
“Drugs are very pervasive in this community. We’re near the Mexico border; we have a major thoroughfare that runs straight through town from Larado. There’s thousands of pounds of illegal drugs on that highway every day. A lot of them are stopping here. We have gang activity and we’re a prison town. All of that contributes.”
Thomas expects to report her findings from other school districts at the regular meeting of the BISD board in May.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.