MVRHS students excluded for drug infractions

Four Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) students allegedly involved in drug related activities have been excluded for the remainder of this school year and the first quarter of the next academic year, according to an email to The Times yesterday from superintendent of schools James Weiss.

“Principal Steve Nixon conducted four separate exclusion hearings, based upon the information he was given and did impose significant consequences,” Mr. Weiss said.

All four students were not involved in the same incident, so the penalties for their infractions are not necessarily the same, he added.

Mr. Weiss said, as a next step, the students could appeal Mr. Nixon’s decision to him. If the students were not satisfied with Mr. Weiss’s decision on appeal, further appeal may be made to the school committee. Since that process is still underway, Mr. Weiss said he would not discuss the details.

Mr. Nixon also declined comment on the specifics of the cases, citing the continuing appeals process. He did explain that the high school’s substance abuse policy includes four categories of drug related violations, possession of paraphernalia, under the influence, possession of drugs, and distribution. There is no provision for a warning under the policy, for a student found to be involved.

“In all of those categories, there are different levels of disciplinary action attached to them, and it’s the same disciplinary action attached basically every time we do it,” Mr. Nixon said.

Depending on the offense, police may be called in by the school, Mr. Nixon added. Oak Bluffs Police said they knew of the school’s actions regarding the four students.

“While I know that pot [marijuana]was decriminalized last year, we did not change our consequences and still consider drug violations as very serious,” Mr. Weiss said.

Unlike students who are expelled, those who are excluded may return to school but must reapply to do so. Unless they are special education students, their parents are responsible for the excluded students’ education while they are excluded. The high school informs the students about options, which include tutoring, home schooling, attending another school, and online classes.