Principal's Message

Happy Fall!!!  We have a variety of great opportunities within the school and community this time of year.  However, our city council has been considering allowing the cannabis industry into the City of Morgan Hill.  I have placed below, a letter drafted by myself and the principal of Ann Sobrato High School, that was presented to city council as an argument against that.  I am placing this here, as it gives valuable insight to the problems we are facing and the efforts we are making to support our students and staff in battling these challenges.

 

November 6th, 2019

Morgan Hill City Council:

The schools and staff of MHUSD have an obligation and moral imperative to ensure safe and drug-free environments for our students.  We recognize that this has been an ongoing battle in the schools, community, state and world for as long as substance abuse had been around.  However, with the creation and marketing of vaping devices containing nicotine and THC wax, the impact has increased exponentially. Our students are already exposed to and using these devices at an alarming rate and bringing the Cannabis industry to Morgan Hill will only prove to increase the problems.

Since the legalization of marijuana, our youth have an increased perception that possession, purchase and use of nicotine and cannabis is “normal’, acceptable and legal for their age group.  On a daily basis, students are using and being caught with a variety of these products and devices. Upon searching and investigating these incidents, we are commonly informed of various ways they can obtain the substances and devices.  There have been claims made by students and families that there are current drug/liquor/gas station stores that are selling without age identification. There are also reports of students (current and past) selling to anyone and everyone.  Most alarming is when students tell us that they purchase from random people on the streets of Morgan Hill. Vaping devices are readily available to any person who is seeking them (regardless of age and socio-economic standings).

Through our monitoring and implementation of consequences for these violations, we are seeing that there isn’t a trend in type of student or certain subpopulation that this affects.  Students of all genders, races, ethnicities, grade levels, GPAs, and socio-economic status are exposed to and using these substances. This has become a “norm” for this generation of students and we are extremely concerned about the health and safety risks/factors that this industry imposes on our youth.  

The following are ways in which this industry and those that partake are impacting the schools:

  • Poor health conditions for students

  • Increased need for counseling/therapy/rehab as student anxiety is on the rise

  • Increased need for law enforcement interactions and citations for youth

  • Professional development time and engagement needing to be focused on this issue, which means additional time needed to tackle the job we are here for, education

  • Students not being able to access certain facilities on campus due to other students occupying them with these devices

  • Plumbing problems (including sewage flooding) due to students flushing paraphernalia and more down the toilet

  • Unnecessary fire department calls for alarms being set off due to smoking

  • Increased suspensions/expulsions - leading to fewer students accessing the education they deserve

  • Behavior issues and heightened reactions due to being under the influence

  • Poor academic behavior due to addiction

  • Degradation and safety of our students, staff and campuses 

  • Increase of student physical altercations over substances and devices

  • Increase in the “snitch” mentality, leading to difficulty in enforcing school rules and policies.

  • Misappropriation of administrative and staff resources - spending time on this, where it could be better spent elsewhere (in the classroom)

Things we are doing on our end to help:

  • Training staff and families on these substances/devices and how to help

  • Exploring drug awareness and support initiatives

  • Increased monitoring of student restrooms and personnel

  • Restorative Justice

  • Consistent and progressive consequences

  • Increased counseling services available

  • Increased SRO presence

  • Use of resources to educate students on dangers and the law

  • Changes in school safety policies in regards to proactive strategies for ensuring substances/devices aren’t brought into events

This epidemic is nationwide and not something that one individual, school, district or community can solve.  However, we are doing a disservice to the youth of Morgan Hill and the education system of which they are supposed to benefit, in considering the introduction of this industry to Morgan Hill.  A decision by the Council to move forward with the cannabis industry will send a message loud and clear, that the city values revenue more than it values the health, safety and education of its youth and education system.  Please hear us, acknowledge us and take action to partner with us in solving the vape/wax issues with our youth, rather than fuel the fire. Thank you for the opportunity to share our experiences. If you have any additional questions regarding how this decision would affect our schools, please do not hesitate to reach out to both of us.

Sincerely,

Courtney Macko - ASHS

Tanya Calabretta - LOHS