Sober schools: Fewer teens bringing booze to campus

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- KEPR learned far fewer teens are taking alcohol to school these days.

Teens will be teens, even on school grounds. In a recent survey, 40% of high school seniors admitted drinking alcohol and sadly, some of it took place on school campus.

KEPR found it happened dozens of times last year in the Tri-Cities school district. Richland Bomber Ashley Witte has little tolerance.

"It's stupid. You need to learn in class in order to go somewhere in life," she tells Action News.

KEPR sifted through the records to see how many alcohol incidents there were in local school districts. Alcohol was found 10 times in the last year at a Kennewick school. That's down from 27 cases in 2010.

During the same time period, the number of incidents in Richland decreased from 46 to 27.

Pasco was the only district that saw an increase in alcohol cases, going from seven incidents to 15. Even then, overall incidents were still down from two years ago.

The school districts admit it's possible the alcohol was still there, but just wasn't found. They're more likely to credit the renewed partnerships between teachers and prevention counselors. At the first sign of trouble, a teen could be referred for help.

"Maybe there's concerning behavior. Maybe students are missing class, maybe they're acting out... Which could warrant a referral to an intervention specialist," says Nikki Wood, Prevention Director at ESD 123.

From there, it's up to the student.

"Some students recognize they need," Wood says. "Other students are defensive and don't admit usage has created problems."

But Tri-Cities schools believe those problems are becoming less frequent in our community.

Beer was the most common drink found on school campuses.

The districts all have the same penalty for a student caught drinking any kind of alcohol -- it's an automatic suspension or expulsion.