FULLERTON : City Chipping in for Anti-Drug Speaker

The City Council has agreed to pay part of the fee of an anti-drug motivational speaker who will appear at Fullerton Union High School later this month.

Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to allocate $500 for a speech to be given by Joseph Jennings, a former gang member and drug addict who travels to schools and communities throughout the country.

School officials requested the money last month, but council members put off a vote until they could learn more about the speaker. In addition, some council members had reservations about spending the money, citing state and federal grants that the Fullerton Joint Union High School District already receives for drug, alcohol and tobacco education.

But school officials said that their grant money, including $400,000 the district recently received from the U.S. Department of Education, is pegged for specific purposes, such as salaries and benefits for substance-abuse coordinators and the cost of training school employees.

Fullerton Union High School Principal Ed Shaw said that the school cannot use the grant money on outside speakers and has sought funding through private donations and parents' contributions. So far, $1,300 of Jennings' $3,000 speaker's fee has been raised.

"We do not need the city's funds," Shaw told the council. "The purpose of asking the city of Fullerton's help is to reach out beyond the school's walls, to get the city involved."

The school plans to follow up on Jennings' speech, tentatively scheduled for later this month, with discussion groups and study materials.

The city will help pay for the speech with money seized by law enforcement agencies during drug raids. The city already uses the money to pay for Drug Abuse Resistance Education officers at high schools.

Council members also voted to consider spending $1,000 annually on school-organized drug programs when the city's budget comes up next spring.

"The city should do everything it can to maintain its leadership role," said Councilman Richard C. Ackerman. "It will send a message that the city is involved in every way it can."

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