Marijuana Tied to Expulsion Rise: Assaults Also Go Up at Schools

Article excerpt

The number of students expelled from Fairfax County public schools has skyrocketed in five years, with drug offenses and assaults each increasing more than tenfold.

Between the 1990-91 school year and the 1994-95 school year, the number of students expelled annually increased from 16 to 115. The number expelled for assault increased from four to 56, and the number expelled for drugs rose from three to 44.

School officials blame the rapidly growing popularity of marijuana for fueling about half the increase in expulsions. Some well-to-do suburban teens, officials say, are distributing the drug to their friends and in the process getting themselves kicked out of school.

"We obviously have to do a better job of educating kids about the dangers of marijuana use," said Ray Watson, a former high school principal who handles the school system's disciplinary hearings.

Mr. Watson said the increase in drug expulsions mirrors a national increase in marijuana use among teens.

According to figures compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the portion of eighth-graders who had used marijuana in the past year increased from 6.2 percent in 1991 to 15.8 percent in 1995. Marijuana use increased from 16.5 percent to 28.7 percent among 10th-graders and from 23.9 percent to 34.7 percent among 12th-graders during the same period.

The expulsions in Fairfax County represent only the most severe cases, particularly when it comes to marijuana. …