16 STUDENTS LED AWAY IN HANDCUFFS
Undercover Drug Investigation Led To Arrests At Milford High
MIAMI TWP. - Milford High School took a high-profile step in an attempt to curb a drug problem, paying an undercover private investigator to conduct a seven-month investigation that ended Friday with 16 students arrested on charges of selling drugs.
The students - four of them 18 years old - were accused of selling marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms, the stimulant Extacy and the prescription anti-seizure medication Klonopin to the female investigator who posed as a student. The drug sales took place inside the school, on school grounds and at a business nearby, but all of the transactions started as conversations at the school, said Valerie Miller, spokeswoman for the Milford Exempted Village School District.
And some of the money changed hands at the school, she said.
The district paid the investigator's firm $60,000. School officials wondered whether anyone would question the expenditure, Miller said, but decided soon after the Friday morning bust that it was worth the money.
"This is strong action that the district took,'' she said. "We're being very open about it. We want the message out that we're very serious about keeping drugs out of our schools."
The undercover investigator, from a firm in Dayton, had posed as a student since August. She befriended students and attended their parties, but police emphasized she did not use the drugs.
The four 18-year-olds arrested on felony aggravated drug-trafficking charges were: Kyle Dewitt, Jackson Tubbs, Andrew McAllister and Jared Schwartz. They were jailed in Clermont County and will have hearings Monday.
Of the 12 juveniles arrested, 11 were released to their parents Friday. One was taken to the Clermont County Juvenile Detention Center. Miami Township Police were still searching Friday for a 17th student, an 18-year-old.
Police said he is being sought on felony drug-trafficking charges.
The students also face potential suspensions and expulsions, said Superintendent John Frye.
Students were led out of school in handcuffs. Friday's arrests were the most dramatic step in a broader anti-drug program that's the mission of Principal Ray Bauer. Bauer is in his second year at the school of 1,840 students. Shortly after his arrival he announced that curbing drugs would be a priority, Miller said.
"It's tough enough to be a teenager," Frye said. "We don't want them to feel the pressure of drugs on a day to day basis."
Earlier this year, students were surveyed anonymously about their experiences with drugs at the school. Miller said those results indicated "that it was a bigger problem than first thought."
Police drug dogs have found small amounts of drugs in lockers and in vehicles outside. But the response from parents and students, Miller said, was: "You just touched the tip of the iceberg."
Bauer's plan also has included experts being brought in to speak about drugs, and staff members getting training in how to spot and deal with drug issues.
While school officials were proud of the step they took Friday, they also stressed that drugs are a problem at many schools.
"I don't think this is different than what's going on at any other high school," Frye said.
Some students agreed this was a strong, necessary statement by the district to help curb drug use. Others questioned whether the investigation was entrapment. Most said they knew about drugs at the school but never imagined this would happen.
One student suggested graduating seniors could protest at the school's May 28 graduation.
"This is going to ruin some of our friends' lives," said senior Amy Smith, 18. "If these students need help, there's better ways. If a statement was trying to be made, it was made. Congratulations."