Rockwood's D.A.R.E. Committee: Surprising Timing

A group of Rockwood principals and administrators have been evaluating and revising the district's approach to drug education since Aug. 9, 2010.

The future of Rockwood School District's drug education efforts is not settled, and a Patch examination revealed that some factors associated with the program haven't been fully communicated.

The recent controversy about the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program should be addressed at Thursday's Rockwood School District board of education meeting. In what appeared to be a huge surprise,  last month that the free, community-oriented program was being dropped. That news prompted  to rally around it and to  to ask why  was eliminated and why it couldn't be reinstated.

District-created presentation materials originally scheduled to be discussed at the June 2 school board meeting uncovered a few, critical surprises regarding the length of time district representatives proposed changes to the overall approach of drug education. At the June 2 meeting, board president Steve Smith announced the presentation would not be occurring, citing recent personnel changes on the committee.

Prior to the meeting, the presentation was available via the district's website, but it was taken down sometime during the meeting or immediately after. The presentation indicated the D.A.R.E. committee members were "providing an update and recommendations after a year-long review of the D.A.R.E. program."

The presentation outlined that Ken McManus, director of Rockwood's Drug-Free Coalition, met with area police chiefs and commanders on Aug. 9, 2010, to discuss the vision of the D.A.R.E. program and personnel decisions. A recap of actions outlined in the presentation include:

  • Aug. 30, 2010: An email was sent to Rockwood elementary school principals that said sometime during the 2009-2010 school year the decision had been made to reduce D.A.R.E. lessons to 10 in the upcoming school year, and there was a need for a committee to review the future of the program.
  • Aug. 31: The same details about D.A.R.E. were shared at the elementary principals' standing meeting, and each of Rockwood's quadrants were to select a principal to serve on the D.A.R.E. review committee.
  • Sept. 27: Ken McManus and Laura Beckmann met to review the Rockwood health curriculum and determine how it matched with D.A.R.E.
  • Oct. 21-26:  Elementary principals were selected to serve on the D.A.R.E. committee at their principal quadrant meetings.
  • Nov. 10: The D.A.R.E. committee met. It consisted of Ken McManus, Laura Beckmann, Jane Brown, Dave Cobb, Amy Digman, Meg Brooks, Amy Wehr, Terry Harris, Jeff Puls, Kim Litzau and Shari Sevier. Jill Ramsey, interim director of elementary schools, facilitated the committee. It was noted that D.A.R.E. could not be moved to the middle school and that some police departments were cutting back on D.A.R.E. training. It also was noted they believed D.A.R.E. objectives were in Rockwood's health and guidance curriculum.
  • Nov. 16:  The D.A.R.E. committee shared details from first meeting with elementary principals.
  • Dec. 1:  Chesterfield Police Chief Ray Johnson and Lt. Steve Lewis met with Ken McManus and Jill Ramsey to discuss financial cutbacks and having an "efficient and effective relationship."
  • Jan. 12, 2011: The D.A.R.E. committee informed district chief officers Kim Cranston and Dennis Griffith about work and updated the Superintendent's Council. They started to develop a communications plan with Cranston about when the decision about the future of D.A.R.E. would be decided.
  • Jan. 18: Jill Ramsey updated the following Rockwood employees: Superintendent Bruce Borchers, Steve Beatty, Jane Brown, Shirley Broz, Kathy Chitwood, Dave Cobb, Kim Cranston, Suzanne Dotta, Erik Graham, Dennis Griffith, Terry Harris, Kim Litzau, Carrie Luttrell, Kelvin McMillin, Dale Menke, Karen Seiber, Mike Seppi, Sean Stryhal and Scott Tate.
  • Jan. 25:  Another D.A.R.E. committee update was given to Rockwood elementary principals.
  • Feb. 25:  Committee plans to involve parents and to discuss public relations plan.
  • March 11:  Subcommittee of following people developed an integrated model—Meg Brooks, Jane Brown, Amy Digman, Ken McManus, Shari Sevier, Laura Beckmann, teachers, counselors and Lt. Steve Lewis from the Chesterfield Police Department.
  • March 29:  Another committee update was given to elementary principals and the model was expanded to include homeside activities through the Caring School Community model.
  • April 6:  Subcommittee provided an update and requested Dennis Griffith to set up meeting with police chiefs.
  • April 11:  Unanimous approval from elementary principals reached at a quadrant meeting to discontinue D.A.R.E., starting 2011-2012.
  • May 12:  Jill Ramsey, Ken McManus and Gina Tarte met with the police commanders from Eureka, Wildwood, Ballwin, Ellisville and Fenton.
  • May 13-23: Committee shared results of meeting with police via emails.
  • May 17: Unanimous decision of elementary principals discussed at elementary principal meeting as well as next steps to "develop expanded model using community resources for curriculum delivery."

District representatives confirmed that Rockwood's D.A.R.E. committee members have not been present at the recent board of education meetings where students, parents, police representatives and industry professionals have expressed concerns about eliminating the program.

Thursday's Rockwood Board of Education meeting is at 7 p.m. at , 16025 Clayton Rd., Ballwin.

Rachel Heaton June 17, 2011 at 09:58 AM
Wildwood-Eureka Editor Julie Brown Patton reports that the school board announced D.A.R.E. will continue for another year.


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