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School Board Ponders Drug-Use Problem

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Drug use and abuse in Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor Public Schools were discussed last night in executive session by the Board of Education. The meeting, which was attended by Ann Arbor Police Chief Walter E. Krasny and two other officers, was held at the request of the father of an Ann Arbor High School student who has been involved in drug use. Krasny told the trustees there has been a definite increase in drug traffic in the city during the past year. But he stressed that the increase is a problem throughout the whole nation, and not just in Ann Arbor. Detective Sgt. Calvin Hicks told the board an estimated 30 per cent of Ann Arbor residents have used narcotics or drugs at one time or another. He estimated that only two per cent, however, would be classified as "habitual" users. Hicks said these figures include all age groups in Ann Arbor, but the greatest dence of drug use is found inthe 14-21 age group. In the Ann Arbor area, Hicks said, the biggest problem is with marijuana and the two hallucinogens LSD and mescaline. Hicks roughly estimated that perhaps 100 Ann Arbor High School students were using drugs of some kind, but he said it is very difficult to get an accurate picture of high school drug use because of the bragging- often untrue- which is done by the alleged users. Krasny and Hicks also indicated that the mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison for sale of marijuana is another problem in trying to decrease drug traffic and abuse, since many school officials and lawmen are reluctant to turn in a youth vvhen they know he faces such a stiff sentence. The father of the Ann Arbor High school student involved with drugs accused the school board of being "too complacent" about the drug problem. "This is a serious problem and I don't think you have all the facts," the father said. He urged the board to give "responsible leadership" in this area, and said it was the board's responsibility to inform Ann Arbor parents about the increasing drug use. Dr. Sam Sniderman, assistant superintendent for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, said an effort is being made to beef up existing subjects teaching about drugs, to increase teaching materials on drugs and to give teachers more background on the subject. The seventh-grade life science course presently includes a unit on drugs, he said. Sniderman also disclosed the schools also are considering sponsoring a series of lectures for parents on drugs. Also attending last night's executive session were the principals and assistant principals of Pioneer and Huron High schools, and Officer Robert Robinson, who is stationed at the high schools.