Casey constable may be at schools Monday

August 10, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - Casey County Constable Steve Cochran has declared war against drugs in the Casey schools but the legality of the matter will be his first battle.

He told the county Board of Education Monday night that he plans to be at the middle and high schools Monday morning if there is not a school resource officer there.

"I promised to get the drugs out of the school," Cochran said. He said 60 percent of the students in both schools use drugs daily and some of the students have sex within the school facilities. He said his source comes from students.

Winter Huff, board attorney, said the board shares the same concerns as Cochran, but it could not allow someone that's not a trained resource officer to go into the schools. "We will call a trained officer when needed," she told Cochran.


She added that in previous years trained dogs have inspected the schools but there was concern about the dogs harming students.

"If I did something and it was wrong, a parent could come after me and the school board for allowing a dog there," Huff said. "It's not appropriate to do that."

However, Cochran said that his job is established by the Kentucky Constitution. "I will be at the middle school and high school Monday."

"Where is the resource officer?"

Superintendent Linda Hatter expressed her appreciation for his concern and promised to check on the matter and get back with Cochran. "Where is the resource officer?" he asked. "I saw him working at the judicial center." He was referring to Rex Rader, who the school superintendent thought was in training.

Hatter learned this morning that Rader, who was hired as the school resource officer, had been in training but had injured his back and had to drop out for a couple of weeks. She said Mayor Steve Sweeney told her Rader was scheduled for a physical Aug. 21, and if he is able, he will return to training after that.

"I'm worried to death about the schools," the constable said.. "You've got the money to hire somebody," he said referring to the money the city, county, school board and Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention set aside earlier for an officer to patrol the schools.

Cochran promised to help rid his district of drugs before he was elected, but that has not happened, he said. "I can't rid my district, but I can help in the schools," he said. After school the kids are on their own, but they can be watched while at school, he said.

Cochran expressed his concerns several months ago to the school board, city and fiscal court. Each one agreed to put up the money to hire an officer, which the city will hire and supervise.

Hatter said the school board has tried to tackle the problem since then, but things keep getting in the way. "We've had special meetings to discuss this. We've advertised for an officer," she said. "I'm not proud it's not resolved, but I need to check again with the training. If he isn't training, we need to get someone else."

Board member Gale Durham said it was the city's obligation to hire an officer. "They should have contacted us. There have been a lot of applications turned down because we thought we had one hired."

Some discussion about random drug testing of students

There was some discussion on random drug testing of students, and Huff said that it is possible if the board establishes that there are serious drug and alcohol problems in the schools.

High school Principal Tim Goodlett said the problem has been discussed, but no students, like athletes, can be targeted for testing.

"It's true, this is a concern for everyone, but we need more discussion and study before we do that," said Goodlett. He said some say 10 percent of the students are using drugs; others said 80 percent are using drugs. "Overall, there is a problem, but if we do testing, it will be for educational and treatment purposes."

Middle school Principal Terry Price said most of the drug problem is drugs that kids bring from home. "This is a cultural problem, and it needs our attention," she said.

Cochran said the constitution says the sheriff and constables do not have to be trained.

"I've got to do what I've got to do," said Cochran. "I'll report for duty. You do what you have to do."

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