9 UC High students pinched in drug bust
by Kailee Bradstreet
Published - 01/12/07 - 03:17 PM | 5577 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nine University City High School students were arrested the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 3 on charges of drug possession and sales as a result of an undercover operation at the school in which a San Diego police officer posed as a student.

An arrest warrant has been issued for an additional University City student who recently transferred to a school in Ohio, according to San Diego police Lt. Shelley Zimmerman. Since September, officers at the school purchased marijuana, ecstasy, prescription pain medication and psilocybin, also known as "magic mushrooms," from students, Zimmerman said.

"We have had community complaints about drug dealing in and around campuses and have had anonymous letters written about it," she said. "We believed we needed to conduct the program to see if the problem was still ongoing, and obviously, from the arrests, it is."

Six students at Patrick Henry High School in Del Cerro were also arrested as part of the operation. Marijuana was found on one student from each school at the time of arrest, according to Zimmerman. The San Diego Police Department and San Diego Unified School District police were both on scene.

"We also have looked at suspensions and expulsions for drug use, and based on a combination of that and the complaints, we put undercover officers at those two campuses," Zimmerman said.

Of the nine arrested from UC High, eight students are male and one female. Four of the students are Clairemont residents, two are from the University City and La Jolla communities, and one lives in Pacific Beach, according to school records. All of the students are minors, and no names have been released.

A total of 12 pain pills, 6.3 grams of marijuana, five ecstasy pills and 6.4 grams of psilocybin were purchased during a four-month period, police reported.

The San Diego Police Department could not comment on whether it had ongoing operations at other school campuses. Additional arrests at the schools are not anticipated, according to police reports.

"We will continue to do everything we can to enforce that these are safe campuses," Zimmerman said.

Both schools are part of the San Diego Unified School District, which has set a strict anti-drug policy for its campuses, according to district spokeswoman Ursula Kroemer.

"The school district looks at this as positive because it reinforces the zero tolerance," Kroemer said.

Administrators at University City High are in agreement and believe that the incident will help deter students from bringing drugs on campus, according to Ernie Smith, University City High School principal.

"That type of action, it speaks louder than words," Smith said. "The principal can say, "˜We mean it,' but [students] are waiting to see what really happens. Usually we catch one at a time, but for police to catch a number like they did yesterday, it has a type of shock value for the kids."

A schoolwide announcement about the incident was made to students and staff on Thursday, and Smith will hold an open forum parent meeting Friday, Feb. 2, to discuss the issue with the community, he said.

The high school had also been talking with concerned community members prior to Wednesday's incident about implementing an intervention program using drug detection dogs at the school, he said.

The idea has been met with mixed reviews by parents, but most people are in favor of the school taking all possible actions to maintain a safe campus, and that is the school's number one priority as well, according to Smith.

"Drugs won't be stopped by interventions and dogs and assemblies on their own, but if we do a lot of these, maybe we will slowly decrease the amount used on campus," he said. "The purpose isn't to bust these kids; it's to keep a safe campus and stop drugs from being on our campus."

"” See related story on page 8.

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