Anti-drug "contracts" that Lawrence High School students must sign before participating in extracurricular activities are ineffective and create unnecessary paperwork, say some LHS students.
But LHS officials say students representing the school should be held accountable, and they point out that the contracts have resulted in some students being suspended from certain activities.
The contracts, which LHS began using this school year, say that the "use, distribution and possession of illegal drugs and alcohol, on or off school property, will be considered a violation of this contract during the time a student is a member of an LHS extracurricular organization."
THE CONTRACTS stipulate that when a student commits a first violation, he or she will be suspended from one week of activities of the organization to which he or she belongs, and the student will be suspended from at least one event. The contracts impose heavier restrictions for subsequent violations.
An LHS group called the Alliance for Social Awareness has met with school officials to express concerns about the contracts.
"ASA is of the opinion that, yes, there is a drug problem," said LHS senior Adam Hefty, a member of the group.
However, Hefty said, "We felt the contracts created unnecessary paperwork. Students have to turn in a contract for each activity that they participate in. I've turned in more than seven contracts."
ALSO, HEFTY said, students not involved in extracurricular activities might get the impression that "the administration doesn't care about us as people." He said that rather than individual contracts, there should simply be a schoolwide policy regarding drug and alcohol use.
But Diane Ash, prevention specialist at LHS, said there is a good reason for requiring only students involved in activities to sign the contracts.
"If you choose to be involved in an extracurricular activity, then you're choosing to represent Lawrence High," Ash said. "In taking that place on the team, you're committing to being the best that you possibly can be, with as healthy a mind and body as you possibly can have."
ASH SAID some people have noted that certain school organizations, such as foreign language clubs, might not be involved in any events outside the school, and, for that reason, students involved in the clubs don't represent LHS at other schools.
The school's contract committee might discuss whether to continue having contracts for those clubs during a meeting scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Thursday.
LHS does have a schoolwide policy on substance use, but it prohibits student use of drugs and alcohol only "while they are in school, in school transportation vehicles, or at school-sponsored events." The student contracts are more encompassing in that they ban use of drugs and alchohol outside of school events.
David Stutler, LHS junior, said, "People are going to use drugs and alcohol whether you have a contract or not."
LHS PRINCIPAL Brad Tate, on the other hand, said he thinks the contracts can have an impact. He said that so far this year, four or five students have been found in violation of the contracts, including two football players who were barred from playing in a game.
"Some parents get pretty upset about the penalties, and others are very supportive," Tate said. "You get different reactions from parents just like you do from students."