Thunder Bay

Don't suspend students caught with drugs, advocate says

A committee that wants to reduce drug abuse in Thunder Bay is working with schools to change the way they discipline students.

Thunder Bay drug strategy wants schools to help students, rather than cast them out

A committee that wants to reduce drug abuse in Thunder Bay is working with schools to change the way they discipline students. It says suspensions and expulsions aren't the answer for drug offences.

Helping young people overcome addictions is a key part of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, which is co-ordinated by Patty Hajdu. She said part of the solution is getting educators to rely less on kicking a student out of school for offences.

Patricia Hajdu, Thunder Bay's drug strategy co-ordinator. (CBC)

Hajdu said she’s working with several school boards in the Northwest, including the public and Catholic boards in Thunder Bay.

"Often times there isn't much else that happens [and students] may get referred to a counsellor at the school if they're lucky," Hajdu said. "But the issues don't necessarily go away."

Charlie Bishop, an education officer with the Lakehead District School Board, said schools are starting to change the way they think. He said the focus is shifting to repairing relationships in the student's life.

"Once the student accepts responsibility for his or her actions, then the student needs to understand the impact that his actions or her actions have had, not only on him or herself, but also on the community at large and also on other people," Bishop said.

"It can be challenging," Bishop added. "But I think over time, with more experience or practice, it's becoming more and more part of the way that we deal with issues."