Restoring drug-free school zones

Superintendents are starting to join with state representatives to ask for passage of House Bill 1482, which would restore protections for children and the places where they gather, such as schools, daycares and parks.

“I was absolutely furious to find out that State Question 780 would do away with drug-free school zones,” said Mike Martin, superintendent of Pauls Valley Public Schools. “Not only was the language intentionally withheld from the public but upheld by a court that should be defending public safety.  Regardless of what has been done, as educators, we must do all we can to restore protection for our children. House Bill 1482 does that.”

State Rep. Scott Biggs authored and State Rep. Tim Downing co-authored HB1482, which passed the House Judiciary – Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee with a vote of 11-1.

The bill preserves the portion of state law that makes it a felony to possess drugs within 1,000 feet of a public or private school or public park or within the presence of a child under the age of 12. This crime could still be charged as a misdemeanor, by discretion, and the options of drug court and deferred or suspended sentences could still be utilized.

“The bill also leaves the totality of SQ780 fully intact in every single square inch of Oklahoma, outside the presence of children and locations where children are targeted,” said Downing.

SQ780 and the removal of drug-free school zones would become effective in July.

Downing explained that the United States and all 50 states have laws for drug-free school zones.

“We must protect the children entrusted to our care,” Martin said. “We must keep our schools drug free.”