High School Plans to Open Drug Clinic

Would be first-of-its-kind school for New York

The calls started pouring in as soon as William Floyd schools superintendent Paul Casciano arrived at work.

Parents and taxpayers wondered why the district had proposed opening a drug clinic inside William Floyd high school.

"Something needed to be done," said Casciano of the school district's ongoing battle against student drug use.

Since the 2007-08 school year, the number of disciplinary cases involving students either possessing drugs in school or coming to class high had doubled, school officials confirmed.

After consulting drug rehab experts, educators decided to explore the uncharted territory of moving a clinic into the school.

If approved by state officials, it would become the only in-school program of its kind in New York.

"We wanted to make it easier for kids to get help," said Casciano, citing the lack of programs like this in the school's Mastic Beach community.

Under the proposed plan, the drug clinic would be for counseling only. No drugs like methadone would be dispensed.

Only district students could join the program. Addicts from the surrounding community would not be allowed to take part.

"Let's meet the kids where they are at and remove as many barriers to treatment as we can," said Caroline Sullivan, managing director of the Daytop rehabilitation program.

Daytop has filed an application with New York state to run the William Floyd program.

There would be no cost to local taxpayers, according to both Sullivan and Casciano. A patient's personal health insurance would cover the costs.

Daytop currently runs programs across New York state; but, students come to the Daytop facilities, not vice versa.

"The fact that they're being proactive and not putting their heads in the sand - it's amazing," said William Floyd parent-teacher organization vice-president Lorraine Mentz.

"The situation right now is scary; very scary."

It's unclear how long it could take for state officials to review the application for the in-school clinic. And the William Floyd school board would also need to approve it.

Before that, it might have to answer the concerns of doubters in the public.

"For those who think the school is not the place, then where is," countered Sullivan. "Our kids are dying out there; so, why not go to them."

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