A Letter to Parents

March 12, 2012

Dear NUSD Parents:

Making our schools safe and orderly is a commitment that will never be overlooked. This very critical school component is our number one priority, and it provides us the climate necessary to educate our students. Many factors work together for the success and the betterment of our school community. Receiving excellent academic scores and report cards in our district schools for the 2010-2011 academic year prooves that we are achieving these goals.

Last year, our schools received some of the highest letter grade labels of “A’s” and “B’s”, a noteworthy achievement in comparison with other school districts in the county and state. We are extremely proud and very appreciative of all of our stakeholders, which includes teachers, students, many caring parents, all the support staff, and school administrators. As we wind down this current year, we are looking forward to another record of academic success.

This past month, our schools and school district have been in the media headlines and in the conversations of many throughout the community regarding disciplinary issues and drug activity. First of all, I would like to inform you that our schools are safe and the vast majority of our students are moral young people with good character. Many times perceptions, wrong information, isolated cases, and outside entities blemish unfairly the reputations of our good students and schools.

Our students and schools deserve better than the negative exposure that has taken place within the past few weeks. We do have challenges like many other schools and communities. Drugs do exist and are brought to our schools by some students who are willing to take negative risks and choose this path. But be assured that our schools are not drug infested! Our school district is structured, secured, and has a Zero Tolerance Policy in place when it comes to misuse of prescription drugs, illicit drugs, weapons, and other serious infractions.

Our schools have always directly addressed these critical issues. This is why you hear that students get caught and discipline imposed on them. More recently, though, these cases have gotten more media attention for many reasons. Our school district is confronting this reality just like our Nogales community is confronting this drug culture reality. More students are being exposed to the drug culture, experimenting with more addicting and hard-core drugs. Despite many efforts by schools and community organizations, these drugs, as well as cigarette smoking, are becoming more appealing to our students. The schools, many times, reflect the negative factors that exist within our own neighborhoods, home life, and community. Sadly, these realities have touched our students and continue to enter our schools. Just recently the Nogales International published a report on how drugs have invaded our community. This past month alone there has been a serious of “heroin busts” throughout the county as pointed out by law enforcement officials (Nogales International, Tuesday, March 6, 2012). This is not only a school or student issue. It simply reflects what is going on in the community around us and what we, as school officials, law enforcement officials, and the Nogales community must deal with. We all need to be more vigilant and observant of what our students are doing in and outside of school. As parents, you must be aware that this issue is serious and that students have access to drugs just about anywhere in our community. But be assured that our school district is taking action and being pro-active when it comes to drugs and drug awareness on our campuses. 

As I have mentioned, there has been an increase of heroin smuggling along our border; drug cartels are investing “big time” as stated by a local law enforcement leader due to Mexico being the second largest cultivator of heroin in the world. More adolescents are being recruited to take part in drug distribution and transporting. In addition, there is a greater demand for alternative prescriptions/over the counter drugs (the highest percentage usage among teenagers). Heroin seizures have increased at the Arizona ports, but at the same time, smaller loads of this drug are easier to conceal by strapping them to a body, making it easy to just walk over like we recently saw with one of our students who were caught with nearly four pounds of heroin in school. We know that this large amount was not for distribution on school grounds but rather to be transported further north. On a side note, when students or offenders are caught with a drug load on school grounds, they can be charged with separate class 2 felonies in addition to just being charged with possession.

In the most current case, as always, the school security and administrators acted immediately, responsively, and accordingly to address this situation.

Lastly, I would like to ask you to continue being the best parents you can be. Please know that as school officials we will continue to do our very best to keep our schools safe, orderly, and free of drugs. Please report anything that you feel, see, or know that might harm our students and schools. Always know what your children are doing in and outside of school. Be aware of their friends, where they go, Facebook postings, cell phone use, e-mails, physical being, health, personal appearance, and all their personal activities, and abnormal behavior. Everything that happens at home matters.

Thank you for your parental support, understanding, and cooperation. Together we will make a difference even when doing the right thing is being challenged. I know this is a long letter, but it is essential to understand that student behavior and school accountability must be shared among all of us.

Sincerely,

Fernando Parra

Fernando Parra
Assistant Superintendent