High School Has Police Question 50 of Its Students for Suspected Drug Use, Dealing

Some students' parents said the school failed to handle the problem, and that this was evidenced by the 'parade of suspects' brought to the police station.

Some 50 students from the same high school were recently interviewed by police on suspicion of drug use. The investigation was carried out by the Kiryat Malakhi police at the behest of the Zafit Regional High School, located near Kfar Menachem.

Sources said police opened cases against a number of teens suspected of drug dealing.

Some students' parents said the school failed to handle the problem, and that this was evidenced by the "parade of suspects" brought to the police station. According to a number of parents, the mass questioning conducted by the police has resulted in "a serious break down of trust between the students themselves, as well as between the students and the school staff."

Other parents, however, felt the school and the regional council acted appropriately.

Zafit High School is considered to be one of the most prestigious educational institutions in Israel's rural communities and serves students from moshavim and kibbutzim in the Yoav Regional Council.

Two weeks ago, the Kiryat Malakhi police began calling in students, most of them 11th graders, suspected of using hashish and marijuana.

"One day I heard from one of the mothers of a student in my daughter's class that there was a drug problem at the school, and that the matter was about to explode. That's how the terrible witch hunt began, and it's still not over," says a parent of one student at the school.

The chair of the school's parent-teacher association, Oren Meirovitz, said the first piece of information about certain students using drugs was provided by their classmates.

"We did not know too many details, but suspicions were relayed to the Kiryat Malakhi police several weeks ago, when the investigation began," Meirovitz said.

"We were asked not to take any action, but the investigation continued, and at the same time schoolchildren began to talk to us," he continued. "In the end it was decided to break the story, to inform the teachers and the parents, and to put together a program to dealing with the issue."

"The school then gave the police the names of only five students, but the ones who were questioned apparently gave up additional information," Meirovitz said.

The police questioning continued for several days.

"No one knows how the so-called list of suspects was prepared," a student's mother said. "As far as we know, there was no drug-related activity at the school, and evidence was mostly based on hearsay. There is also an element here between certain kids that involves settling scores."

The investigation, said one parent, "has undermined the trust between parents and their children. And there is anger at the school, which filed a report ... without having an educational program in place to address these issues."

The Education Ministry responded in a statement: "Following information that the administration at Zafit [High School] received, the school decided to bring the matter to the police. The relevant course of action was carried out in cooperation with the local authorities and under the supervision of the educational institution."