Sky Islands Shifts to A Closed Campus

Dear Parent/Guardians,


For those of you who were not able to attend last night’s parent meeting I am attaching a copy of the handouts we presented. The  purpose of the meeting was to let each of you know that as of Monday, February 6th Sky Islands is going to a closed campus. Details are in the handouts.


Public high school


February 2, 2012


Parents/Guardians of Sky Islanders,

We are increasingly aware that Sky Islands is acquiring a reputation as a ‘pot school’ due to the number of students who illegally smoke marijuana.  Regardless of anyone’s personal opinions about marijuana, it is against the law for anyone to possess or use it.  Additionally, in the past, we have not been indifferent to smoking among our students, but we have accommodated the needs of our students who do smoke and have encouraged them to quit, with limited success.  In the end, smoking on or near school grounds is illegal and we cannot allow it to continue.


Failing to address the significant impact of illegal smoking and known drug use sends the wrong message to potential incoming students and their families, and to current students, parents/guardians, and the community at large.  Students who take advantage of the open campus policy to smoke and/or use drugs within sight of  our neighbors and the Sabino Canyon Road traffic, and who climb down into the wash and under the bridge, are doing so despite our strong and vocal opposition.  While we cannot monitor what your children do when they are not in school, we CAN proscribe and monitor their conduct and activities during school hours.  In fact, we are legally required to do that.


Importantly, we are also seriously concerned about the use among Tucson’s youth of a new ‘designer drug’ that can be legally bought over the counter by 18 year olds—known as Spice or K2.  While it is marketed as incense, it is a ‘synthetic cannabinoid’ significantly more powerful than marijuana.  Spice/ K2 can lead to serious psycho- and physiological consequences, including seizures, tachycardia, and death.  Young people who are immune-compromised, for ex., who have a cold or the flu, are at even greater risk.  Currently, Arizona law does not specify Spice or K2 under ARS 13-3401 as an illegal substance; however other States do, notably Arkansas, where research is at least one year ahead of other states.  We do know that students at Sky Islands are using Spice/ K2 both at school and out of school, and we could not be more strongly opposed.  It is widely available and its use is widespread in all Tucson schools.  In good conscience, we are left with no choice but to secure the school and its premises to keep everyone safe and out of harms’ way as best as we can.




Therefore, effective Monday February 6, 2012

Sky Islands’ campus will no longer be an open campus and we will strictly enforce

the Drug-Free School Zone laws.


In accordance with State and Federal laws, all public schools in Arizona are Drug-Free School Zones.

ARS 13-3411.

1. “Drug free school zone” means the area within three hundred feet of a school or its accompanying grounds, any public property within one thousand feet of a school or its accompanying grounds, a school bus stop or on any school bus or bus contracted to transport pupils to any school.

2. “School” means any public or nonpublic kindergarten program, common school or high school.








   What does becoming a closed campus mean for the Sky Islands’ school day?



1.        No student will be allowed to leave school during school hours—at breaks or lunch.  The east gate will be closed and the campus will be monitored to make sure students stay in approved areas.

2.       Students who leave school during school hours for any reason other than allowed by State law will not be allowed back on campus that day and will be unexcused from classes for the remainder of the school day, and suffer loss of class grade.

3.       Students who leave school during school hours for any reason other than that allowed by State law more than once will be suspended, and may face withdrawal or expulsion.

4.       Students who arrive late or leave early for lawful reasons during a school day must sign out and, if necessary, back in at the Administrative office. A doctor’s note or a court receipt will be required upon return.

5.       There will be NO SMOKING on or around the school campus or within sight of the school at any time.  There will be no smoking allowed on or around any field trips, or in the vehicles transporting students.

6.       Students who are caught smoking on or near campus, including in student-owned vehicles, during school hours will be suspended.

7.       Students caught smoking more than once and/or found in possession of any substance or product in conflict with the Drug-Free School Zone laws will be detained for law enforcement.  Parents will be called, and the student will be disciplined, up to and including withdrawal or expulsion.

8.       Students who are in class under the influence of drugs or any substance, including alcohol, which alters perception or behavior, disrupts the educational environment will face immediate disciplinary action. Law enforcement will be notified as will the parent/guardian.


ARS 36-798.03. Tobacco products prohibition at schools and school-related areas; exception; violation;   classification

A. Tobacco products are prohibited on school grounds, inside school buildings, in school parking lots or playing fields, in school buses or vehicles or at off-campus school sponsored events. For purposes of this subsection, “school” means any public, charter or private school where children attend classes in kindergarten programs or grades one through twelve.

B. Subsection A of this section does not apply to an adult who employs tobacco products as a     necessary component of a school sanctioned tobacco prevention or cessation program established              pursuant to section ARS 15-712.

C. A person who violates this section is guilty of a petty offense.


ARS 13-3411. Possession, use, sale or transfer of marijuana, peyote, prescription drugs, dangerous drugs or        narcotic drugs or manufacture of dangerous drugs in a drug free school zone; violation; classification;      definitions

A. It is unlawful for a person to do any of the following:

1. Intentionally be present in a drug free school zone to sell or transfer marijuana, peyote, prescription-only drugs, dangerous drugs or narcotic drugs.

2. Possess or use marijuana, peyote, dangerous drugs or narcotic drugs in a drug free school zone.


Resources will be made available to help Sky Islanders make this transition.  Anti-smoking websites are available for you to use:;;; and ‘spice/K2’ at and the Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 40, March 1, 2011.


If you have any questions or comments, please forward them to us.  Establishing a Drug-Free School Zone at Sky Islands is fundamentally about changing the current culture of the school, and will take collaboration and hard work.  Your support, as always, is important.  We remain committed to sustaining a school culture that puts the safety and health of our community, and our educational mission, first.




Dr Shari Popen, Director

K2/Spice Addiction

Spice/ K2

Spice is one of the most popular brands of synthetic cannabis and is also known as K2.  Spice is sold as incense in smoke shops, some gas stations, and can even be purchased online.  Many users, in fact, mix the drug with marijuana for a more intense high. Spice can cause dry mouth, red eyes, anxiety attacks, nausea, increased pulse rate, seizures, and hallucinations.   It can also cause tachycardia, severe chest pains, and stomach problems.  The number of cases reported by the Poison Control Center has increased from 13 in 2009 to over 6500 in 201.  A significant number  of these cases  result in death.  Each Spice user has different body chemistry and uses the drug under different circumstances.  When smoked over a long period of time, users develop a tolerance to the drug and find that they must smoke more and more to get the same high. As a result, some users develop a chemical dependency.

Why Isn’t Spice Illegal?

Spice is a relatively new ‘designer drug’.  It has been and continues to be modified to take advantage of loopholes in the legal system.   Spice is currently not illegal in all its synthetic formulas in most U.S. states, despite having so many of the same properties as marijuana. The manufacture of Spice is unregulated, and none of these chemical compounds have been designed for humans or are guaranteed safe for human consumption.


Spice is difficult to detect and regulate, since the drug does not show up on the current tests to detect marijuana use. The substance is banned in many European countries, but by marketing it as incense and clearly stating that it is not for human consumption, domestic sellers in the US have managed to evade federal regulation.  The compounds that are illegal in Arizona are JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-019, JWH-200, JWH-250, JWH-015, AND HU-210 [HB 2167].  JWH-018 is a chemical fertilizer that can cause the negative effects of marijuana at much lower dosages, JWH-073 has been listed by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a chemical concern and HU-210 has been found to be between 100 to 800 times more potent than THC, the main active chemical in marijuana.