Pot suspensions prompt review of Chilliwack school policy

The Chilliwack school district says it's planning a policy review after 12 students who admitted to smoking marijuana on a school trip were suspended for the semester.

12 Chilliwack students suspended for semester after smoking pot on school trip

Some parents criticize suspending students for smoking marijuana 2:11

B.C.'s Chilliwack school district says it's planning a policy review after 12 students who admitted to smoking marijuana and breaking curfew on a school trip were suspended for the semester.

On Monday morning, the Sardis Secondary School students were called to the principal's office one-by-one to discuss the allegations of drug use, which apparently took place last month during an overnight soccer trip to Surrey

Eleven of the twelve students openly admitted to smoking pot, as well as breaking curfew, and all of them were kicked out of school for the semester.

A parent of one of the suspended students, however, believes the punishment is too severe.

Derrik Middleton says it's pointless to uproot students in their junior and senior years when alternatives punishments would be more effective.

"Scare tactics don't work anymore. These kids are smarter than that. And that's what we had when we were young: scare tactics. I think there's got to be more dialogue and better education on the drugs," he said.

Middleton, along with six other families, appealed the suspensions. His son's suspension was overturned, though the teen must complete community service and participate in a course that explores the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

The school district also decided to overturn the suspension of the one student who did not admit to smoking pot, saying he wasn't a participant in the drug use.

Two of the other appeals were rejected, and three are still being reviewed.  Five other students who were suspended have not appealed.

Evelyn Novak, superintendent of the Chilliwack school district, said a review is necessary following harsh criticisms from parents who feel the punishment is too extreme. But she said a policy change is not necessarily assured.

"When we talk review, we're not necessarily going to change our regulation or policy. But we are trying to look at making sure we do reflect our community and that we do listen to parents," she said.

The students who have had appeals rejected or have not appealed at all will finish out the semester at various other schools throughout the Chilliwack district.

The review is planned for early next year.

With files from the CBC's Chantelle Bellrichard


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