School officials seek legislation on notice for student drug crime

December 09, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Carroll school officials asked the county's legislative delegation yesterday for a measure requiring police to notify the superintendent when a student is charged with the sale, manufacture or distribution of drugs.

Del. Joseph M. Getty of Manchester introduced such a bill last year after two teen-agers charged in the drug death of a 15-year-old Westminster High School student returned to school two days later.

School officials were unaware the two had been charged.

One reason Getty's statewide bill was shelved last year was that an estimated 50 percent of the juvenile drug offenders live in Baltimore, and it was believed the bill would create too much paperwork there, he said.

Getty, a Republican, sought advice from school officials yesterday about whether to introduce the bill as local legislation, which is usually passed as a courtesy to the local jurisdiction, or again submit it as a statewide bill.

Both have drawbacks, he said. The problem with introducing it as a local bill is that the General Assembly is reluctant to pass local bills that could set a precedent for similar legislation to be enacted elsewhere in the state, Getty said. The problem with making it a statewide bill is that it is more easily opposed, he said.

The bill raised "confidentiality concerns" for some legislators because juveniles are rarely identified publicly when charges are brought against them, Getty said.

Some legislators also objected to identifying juveniles who have been charged with a crime but not convicted of one. "Their argument was that if you're innocent until proven guilty, why have this bill at all?" Getty said.

The state allows schools to be notified when students are charged with any of 17 offenses, said Vernon F. Smith, assistant superintendent of administration. "All we're asking is to make this No. 18," he said.

Del. Donald B. Elliott, a Republican of New Windsor, wanted to add drug possession to the bill, but Getty turned aside that suggestion, saying the 17 crimes that can be disclosed "are of a very high level," such as murder.

If the bill is to pass, it is important that it pertain only to drug-related offenses of an equally high level, Getty said.

The drug bill was one of 16 measures that school board President C. Scott Stone presented to the delegation yesterday for consideration. Most were statewide bills.

The board is seeking local legislation that would allow the school system to require parents and guardians to provide an affidavit, if asked, specifying that they and their children are residents of Carroll County. They asked that the bill provide for compensatory and punitive damages if people signed a false affidavit.

Getty said the legislature also is reluctant to enact legislation with punitive clauses.

School Superintendent William H. Hyde said that such legislation exists for vandalism, but that the punitive damages rarely cover the amount of the damage.

Pub Date: 12/09/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.