The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Opinion

September 27, 2013

Editorial: Elwood should probe drug-use accusations

An anonymous letter sent recently to The Herald Bulletin and to Elwood school officials claims that the problem of drug abuse on the Elwood football team runs much deeper than the two players who were arrested before a Sept. 6 game.

The players, one 16 years old and the other 17, were arrested after an assistant coach reported the drug possession to school Principal David Rutherford, who contacted Elwood police.

Officers reported finding 7.5 milligrams of the prescription painkiller hydrocodone in the players' possession. They face drug possession charges in juvenile court. The 17-year-old is also charged with dealing drugs.

The anonymous letter contends that other boys on the football team are using drugs.

Elwood Coach Marty Wells reacted indignantly to that accusation and, as you might expect, defended himself and his football program.

While school officials scoff at the anonymous letter and demand that the author come forward, they should take the allegations seriously and conduct an internal investigation. The school does have a detailed drug testing policy, which is always an important step toward discouraging drug use among students.

But there are always holes in such policies, and some students will use drugs and find ways to avoid detection.

Perhaps school officials should extend an offer for the author to come to them and present more information, with a promise that the person's identity will remain confidential. Sometimes an investigation done quietly and behind the scenes will net better results, particularly when the whistle-blower is assured that there won't be reprisals.

Sam Hanna, Elwood's police chief, said he wouldn't be surprised if other students at the school are using drugs. Hanna is a veteran cop who knows from experience the lure that drugs hold for some kids.

The author of the letter may have an ax to grind against Wells or others, but accusations of drug problems at schools should always be investigated.

And officials should be careful not to assume that no problem exists where none has been found.

"We don't have a drug problem at Elwood. Period," Wells said.

Then, how is it that two Elwood student-athletes are facing drug possession charges?

In summary Schools should always take accusations of drug use among students seriously.

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