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Pupils 'stoned' in classes, police say

Sharri Markson, News.com.au, 23rd July 2006

POLICE are being called to public schools every second day to catch students using and dealing drugs including cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and speed.

Figures from the Bureau of Crime Statistics reveal there have been more than 170 police investigations into drug use at public schools during school hours in the 15 months to March this year.

A separate investigation by The Sunday Telegraph found that students are openly smoking and dealing cannabis in the playground and are turning up to class stoned.

At Randwick Boys' High School, students said cannabis was being sold in school hours with teenage dealers charging $20 for a "stick" of marijuana and $50 for marijuana buds.

At lunchtime, boys gather on the side of the sports oval next to a school building to smoke marijuana, in clear view of other students.

After being alerted to the drug deals, The Sunday Telegraph witnessed a group of seven boys passing around a joint between classes last week.

Eastern Beaches police youth liaison officer Constable Kurt Webb confirmed police have been called on several occasions when students have brought drugs to school.

He said police would investigate claims of drug use at Randwick Boys' High and would counsel the students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol use.

"I have two or three youth cautions a month relating to drugs," he said. "When teachers locate it, we get called straight away. It has happened a few times."

Students at Randwick Boys' High said senior students are selling drugs to those as young as 15 every day and are often stoned in afternoon classes.

"There's people from Year 9 to Year 12 smoking marijuana every day in the toilets or on the school oval. You can smell it. Some of them are stoned during class," said one student, who asked not to be named. "The dealers are students".

Teachers are oblivious to the drug deals, the student said.

Principal Geoff McNeil denied students took drugs at the school in a statement to The Sunday Telegraph.

"There are compulsory reporting rules around drugs in schools and there has not been a case of any student found to have been in the possession of any illegal substance in nearly a decade," he said.

According to figures from the Department of Education, 467 students were suspended for using or possessing drugs at NSW schools last year.

A spokesman for Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said students caught with drugs are expelled or suspended.

"We have a zero-tolerance approach to drugs in schools," he said.

"That is why, as part of our new suspension and expulsion guidelines, students caught in possession of drugs are immediately suspended and the matter is referred to police."

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