GOSHEN COUNTY – In his final report as Interim Superintendent for Goshen County School District No. 1, Dr. Rick Patterson announced the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program is likely to be discontinued in this area.
DARE is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives, per the official DARE website (dare.org).
Calling the move a “significant development”, Patterson said he was informed of the intended change during a meeting with Torrington Police Chief Timothy Hurd, explaining Hurd “is very, very committed to and engaged in the community policing model” and involving officers in schools, but plans to move away from using the DARE model.
“There’s no question in (Hurd’s) interest in working with us and cooperating with us,” Patterson said.
“As a chief and throughout my career I’ve really never been a fan of DARE to begin with,” Hurd told the Telegram. “It has its place in urban areas, large metropolitan areas, but statistically speaking, it’s been proven time and time again as having zero – if any – effect in the positive manner of how children past the fifth grade look at narcotics or look at how they’re going to be educated in the future involving narcotics.
“Now that said, I have a hard time going into a classroom … and explaining that drugs are bad when legislation throughout the United States is giving a counter to that. These are people who are supposed to protect our children, these are people who are supposed to say drugs are bad for you, but yet they’re legalizing it all around. Even the State of Wyoming has made a misdemeanor for methamphetamines – three grams or less is a misdemeanor. So tell that to the individual who ingests, one way or the other, three grams of meth … the misdemeanor amount … and then goes out and drives and kills somebody on their way home from a soccer game. You can’t explain how that is OK. It’s just not. So, I have a hard time going in and lying to children … the federal government is offering no support in stopping these changes that are affecting our kids. We have to figure out what is affecting our children. We have to figure out how to teach a different way of getting through to them, when all around them it is being told that these are OK, this is OK. This is legal now. This is something you don’t have to be afraid of when, for years, since 1983, DARE has taught this (is not good).
“So I had to come up with a different way of reaching out, and I’m one of those chiefs, I’m very outspoken and controversial when it comes to things like this because I stand up for what I think the community wants of the police department, and we’ve made a lot of changes in Torrington,” Hurd continued. “Those changes, I’m hoping, are going to have the benefits in the future of being very positive. One of them is doing away with DARE and focusing on what is affecting our children. One of my obligations to each and every parent, and a huge obligation to each and every child, is to keep them safe in a school environment, as well as, the superintendent of schools, and your principals, to your teachers, to your administrators. So, what is facing our children today is social media, bullying – there’s all different aspects and God forbid it manifests into an active shooter. This is what parents are concerned with. It’s hard to go in and concentrate on one officer … the children seeing one officer and one officer only, or maybe two officers, when the other officers aren’t even engaging with the children in a lot of aspects.
“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to introduce … we have little toys that we give to children, we have platforms where myself and the assistant chief are actually going into the schools and talking to the children,” Hurd explained. “I’ve asked that I can speak to every classroom in the Goshen County district right up to the high-school level.
“Where I came from, I was asked to come in and talk to government classes, and the significant changes that we’ve implemented where I came from reduced juvenile crime significantly, and I want the same thing here, and to do that, each officer has to go into the schools,” he emphasized. “The kids have to see, and the young adults have to see, that law enforcement is not a bad thing and officers, not just one or two teaching, but all the officers are interacting with the children in a positive manner, and that they know that social media isn’t always accurate when it comes to the depiction of what a police officer is or should be, and that’s the culture we’re trying to change.
“We want, of course, to keep children off drugs, and we’re going to continue to do that in our classroom presentations, but we’re also going to include bullying, we’re going to include all social media negative aspects that are affecting our children … we’re going to try to inform them that this is going to come back at a later date when they get older. And if you start at that age, in elementary school to middle school, you’re going to see the changes that are positive in the future. DARE has not been able to do that, DARE has not shown me where it is becoming effective, and DARE only addresses the drugs, the awareness, it does not address the other issues that are facing these children that we didn’t face when we were in school.
“As a police department, as a chief, I have to protect our children, and that’s what these parents expect of me and they expect of this agency, and this is the direction that we’re going in in Torrington,” Hurd said. “Is it a new direction? Absolutely – it’s a new direction. Is it going to be effective? Time will tell, and I would be more than happy to adjust … to make these changes that will be effective and that will present a positive aspect for our children and the future of this community – and I hold fast to that, I really believe that that’s why I’m here, and that’s what parents expect of me.”
Also in the Superintendent’s Report, Patterson informed the board 11 students tested positive for drug use during the 2018-19 school year – up one from a year ago.
“Looking at it historically, we’re holding even,” he said. “The good news is … we are and do remain below the national average for positive tests.”
The district will continue to test students who tested positive throughout the summer months.
Former Torrington High School library clerk Sandra Schultz will take over as School Resource Officer for the 2019-20 school year. She has a master’s degree in criminal justice and started her new job as a police officer this week. She is expected to attend the police academy next spring.
Patterson stated new Superintendent Ryan Kramer and his family continues to look for housing in the area, but Kramer assured Patterson he would be on the job in the office on Monday, July 1.
“I’ll be here then, and as needed,” Patterson said. He recommended the board hold a work session with Kramer, building administrators, Deans of Students, and others to consistently address student attendance issues district-wide, including expectations and discipline.
Board Chair Kath Patrick offered “profound thanks” for Patterson’s work during the last several months. He agreed to serve as interim superintendent following former Superintendent Jean Chrostoski’s retirement on Feb. 1.
“When Dr. Patterson agreed to take this task on, he came to us fully committed, very well-trained … we have heard nothing but compliments and appreciation,” she said. “We are so grateful you agreed to take this on, just appreciative of your efforts, and your insights, and your approach to this.”
In other business:
n The district approved the following grants and donations: Wyoming Department of Education “Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program” grant for the 2019-2020 school year in the amount of $42,593.22; $700 from the Southeast Booster Club to the Southeast sixth-grade class for University of Wyoming field trip expenses; $1,500 from the Lingle-Fort Laramie Booster Club to the L-FL athletic department towards the purchase of two Pixellot cameras for broadcasting home events on the NFHS network; and $892.87 from the Panhandle Cooperative Association to L-FL Elementary School.
n The district also approved the following purchases and contract agreements: $8,510.61 for the upgrade of the district VOIP telephone system, replacement of the Torrington High School controller, and additional RAM from Golden West; $7,900 contract renewal with Software Unlimited for software, licensing, and support from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; $5,900 renewal of district web-hosting agreement with IES for July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; $6,941.50 for renewal of Follett Destiny library software licenses, cloud migration, and maintenance costs from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; $5,562 for contract renewal with Educational Advantages for SpedAdvantage software, license and support for the 2019-20 school year, and Section 504 Map licensing in the amount of $2,340; funds not to exceed $8,000 for a special education contract renewal with Wyoming Child and Family Development Inc. for preschool screening (Child Find) services from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; special education contract with WCFD Inc. to provide services for occupational evaluations, occupational therapy, and consultation by occupational therapist at the rate of $70 per hour from Aug. 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020; $18,194.10 for contract renewal with Frontline Technologies for Absence and Substitute Management and Time & Attendance software and licensing from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; $16,416 for renewal of district Microsoft licensing from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020; $12,000 contract with Project Achieve for social-emotional learning professional development services from Sept. 10-12, 2019; $65,000 contract with Brooke Carson LLC for autism and behavior consultation services for the 2019-2020 school year; $18,093.16 contract with STAR Autism Support Inc. for consulting, staff training, and online media licensing for the 2019-2020 school year; maintenance agreement with Long Mechanical Solutions for district building automation and HVAC systems controls, for 2019-2020 in the amount of $24,300 and replacement of network hardware and software at Central and THS in the amount of $29,200; and a contract with North Platte Physical Therapy for district student physical therapy services at the rate of $65 per hour from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.
n The board will hold a special meeting on Thursday, June 27 at noon for payment of final 2018-2019 bills and other business.
n The next regular board meeting will include a budget hearing and is scheduled for Tuesday, July 9 at 7 p.m. at the Central Administration Building.