Maxwell school board debates closed campus

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Maxwell High School students will keep their off-campus lunch privileges, for now. 

School officials said that bad choices made by some students shouldn’t cost the rest of the student body the privilege, although the practice has been fraught with opportunity for teens to get into trouble. 

“It is an issue with some kids taking advantage of being able to leave the campus at lunch and do inappropriate things,” said Superintendent Zach Thurman. 

The school board briefly considered closing the campus after a Maxwell High School student was hospitalized after using an electronic device while away from school during the lunch break.

While drug use has been on the rise at Maxwell, officials said the problem is not widespread. 

Thurman said several students have been caught this year, but devises that are made to be nearly undetectable has made it more difficult to catch students getting high, even when they are on the campus during lunch.

That being said, Thurman agreed that students were easier to control when they are on campus, although 90 percent of students that leave at lunch to go to the store or home to eat do nothing wrong. 

The school board said that while the district may have better control over students while they are on campus, revoking the privilege for everyone would only punish the students who do nothing wrong when they are off campus. 

School Board President Kelly Haywood said leaving campus is a privilege, but that it can and should be revoked for students who get into trouble. 

“If there is a student with behavior issues, then (leaving campus) is a tool for disciplinary action,” Haywood said. 

Thurman said the students who have been disciplined this year have lost their open campus privileges for the remainder of the year.

School officials also expressed concern that students drive to pick up lunch in Williams in the 35 minutes allowed for lunch, and that it may encourage a situation where there are multiple occupants in the vehicle, a known risk factor for teenage motor vehicle crashes. 

However, the board agreed not to close the campus at lunchtime, indicating that privileges should remain as tools that the district and parents can use to control behavior. 

The district does intend to increase drug and tobacco education programs at school to curtail the use of electronic devises to inhale tobacco, THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), or other illicit chemicals. 

The practice has become epidemic among youth, officials said, largely because devises are purposely manufactured to make detection difficult. 

The district is also looking into broadening food choices to give students more options for lunch. 

About 70 percent of Maxwell High School students stay on campus during lunch and eat food offered at the cafeteria, officials said. ■