By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
Despite the recent arrest of a 17-year-old Harker Heights High School student for allegedly using cocaine in the classroom, Killeen Independent School District officials say their schools are safe from drugs.
On Tuesday, HHHS student Alexander Wayne Jackson was arrested and accused of using cocaine in the classroom in front of other students.
Killeen ISD Director for School Safety John Dye pointed to an overall decline in the number of instances KISD police and administrators have encountered students with drugs and alcohol as proof that schools are safe.
While the number of drug-related incidents in KISD schools has gone down slightly over a 12-year period, the size of the district has risen dramatically. With that in mind, Dye said he sees progress in the district's fight against student drug and alcohol use.
In the 2009-10 school year, KISD official reported 61 encounters with drugs and alcohol. In the 1997-98 school year, officials reported 66. However, in the 12 years between, the district has added about 12,000 students.
"When I look a these numbers, I'm not thrilled, but I don't see a problem that we are not trying to help," Dye said. "If we had one case we would have a problem."
Dye said the incident with Jackson was an anomaly.
"That's the first cocaine case we've ever had (in KISD schools)," Dye said.
According to an arrest report, Jackson showed other students how to ingest cocaine. A student reported him to a teacher, and eventually an administrative official confronted him.
After the student agreed to a search, KISD police found trace amounts of a substance that tested positive as cocaine.
"It was immediately reported and immediately taken care of," KISD spokeswoman Leslie Gilmore said.
Jackson remained in Bell County Jail Thursday night on $35,000 bail.
Dye said the large majority of incidents with drugs involve the district's 9,270 high school students, though officials sometimes encounter drugs at middle schools.
Since the beginning of the current school year, officials have encountered drugs and alcohol 40 times.
Marijuana is the most prevalent drug in KISD, Dye said, bucking the statewide trend of prescription drugs being the most widespread type of substance abuse in campuses, according to the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University-San Marcos.
Seventeen KISD students have been found with marijuana since the start of the school year in August. Alcohol is the second most common - 14 cases - followed by prescription drugs - eight cases - and Tuesday's cocaine arrest.
Dye said the district has many programs intended to combat drug abuse.
Students participating in extracurricular activities are subject to random unannounced drug testing. The district contracts with a company to occasionally bring drug--sniffing dogs on campus. Students also take part in character building and enrichment classes.
National research from a University of Michigan program indicated marijuana use is on the rise across the U.S.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.