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School district wants more accountability for drinking, drugs

Laguna Beach has a problem with juvenile alcohol and drug abuse, according to Laguna Beach Unified School District officials.

In response, the district is seeking City Council support for a so-called social host ordinance that would hold responsible the providers of alcohol or drugs to minors. Proponents say it would help curb underage use by putting the onus on adults.


A draft ordinance was presented to the council at the June 19 meeting, but the vote was tabled until later in the year when issues and concerns, such as increased police authority, had been addressed.

In the meantime, the school district spent the summer developing a multiyear implementation plan that includes intervention and prevention through 2015, which officials presented at Tuesday’s council meeting.


“There is a problem with drug and alcohol abuse in this community,” said Supt. Sherine Smith in her introduction to plan authored by Irene White, director of special education and student services.

“We will target grades four and five, eight and nine this school year,” White said. “We will be integrating grades six and seven, next year.”

Random drug testing, expansion of the Peer Assistance Leadership program and after-school programs, educational opportunities for parents and continued participation in Laguna’s Community Coalition are among the plan’s proposals.

Intervention will include individual counseling, a mentoring program, parent projects at elementary and secondary levels, and a pilot support group with Western Youth Services.


Anger management and eating-disorder counseling would be among the services but won’t be called that because no one would come, according to White.

The district is moving in the right direction, she said but added, “Zero is the level we want to be at. Reports of drinking and drugs concern us.”

Following the presentation, resident Steve Cassill told the council that he doesn’t believe the ordinance has popular support and asked where each member stands on the issue.

An earlier version of this story misspelled Steve Cassill’s last name.

“We don’t ask people to respond before the council holds a meeting,” Councilwoman Toni Iseman said.


Cassill responded that she had told him the ordinance was going to pass, but Iseman said she had said it looked like it was going to pass and he should work on tweaking it to make it acceptable.

Cassill requested the council delay a vote on the ordinance to allow more time for public discussion.

No action was taken by the council on Tuesday because the presentation and ordinance were not on the agenda.

The proposed ordinance is tentatively scheduled for the Nov. 13 council meeting.

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