Diversion program offers students chance to avoid expulsion after drug busts

Lebanon School District uses “The Truth About Drugs,” a Scientology-based program through the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.

According to its website, the foundation is a  a nonprofit organization headquartered in Los Angeles and “dedicated to the eradication of illicit drugs, their abuse and their attendant criminality.”

“Kraig (Hoene) and I worked with our district’s hearings officer and SRO a couple of years ago while we were determining what we wanted our program to look like and consist of, curriculum-wise,” said Mike Hillman, alternative education coordinator and expulsion hearings officer. “Other districts use similar programs and Kraig communicated with Dallas during our implementation process.”

When a student is scheduled for an expulsion hearing based on the district’s drug and alcohol policy, he or she is offered the choice of going through the diversion.

“It’s set as a choice for all first-time offenders. Honestly, we haven’t had a student return to a hearing as a second-timer, so I’m not sure how we’d handle that,” Hillman said. “Probably on a case-by-case basis.”

If the student and family decides to choose the diversion, they are required to be seen by a Linn County drug and alcohol counselor.

“As a result of that meeting, (the student is) prescribed amount of drug education needed,” Hillman said. “The program has a comprehensive curriculum up to 30 hours of classroom material and video.”

Students are placed with a tutor who delivers the curriculum hours prescribed by the counselor and the contract goes in the student’s file.

“This program allows us to hold the students accountable for their actions, provide an opportunity for assistance and counseling for a potential drug or alcohol problem and keep them in school so they have every opportunity to graduate,” Hillman said.

Nicole Hundley, LCSD executive secretary, said there have been 18 expulsion hearings this year.

Hillman said he could not give specific data because it is confidential.

“I can tell you that since we’ve started this diversion program we have not had any diversion student’s come to a second expulsion hearing,” Hillman said.

“Hopefully that’s a sign that we’ve begun a program that’s helping our kids. I can tell you that we’ve had several students who went through this program as seniors. These kids would not have been able to graduate prior to us implementing the diversion program because they would have gone immediately to an expulsion status. They were able to complete the program and still graduate on time and walk with their class. We consider all of those a win – win outcome.”

n Lebanon Local is interested in talking with students and families who have gone through Lebanon High School’s diversion program. Please contact Audrey Caro Gomez at (541) 367-2135 or email [email protected].