Upshur Schools safety director: No major drug issue in schools found during recent sweep

TENNERTON – Upshur County Schools officials recently thanked law enforcement for conducting a drug sweep in two buildings and said no major drug problem was discovered during the search.

During the Feb. 22 regular meeting of the Upshur County Board of Education, Upshur County Schools Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness Matthew Sisk spoke about a joint venture which happened on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, in conjunction with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office.

Sisk said on that day, Upshur County Schools and the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office conducted a school-wide drug search at both Buckhannon-Upshur High School and Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. The search was intended to function as a drug prevention initiative.

“I would like to extend a very special thanks to the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department for organizing this enforcement and prevention effort in our schools,” Sisk said. “I would also like to extend a special thank-you to the City of Buckhannon Police Department, the City of Clarksburg Police Department, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Bridgeport Police Department for their involvement in this as well.”

Sisk said during the search, each department used their resources, including their officers and K-9 units and he thanked them for helping combat the nationwide drug epidemic. Sisk said he was happy to announce that during the school-wide drug search, there was no indication of a major drug issue currently in the schools.

“That is a very big takeaway from that day,” Sisk said.

BOE member Patrick Long asked Sisk to reiterate what findings there were during the search of the two schools.

“There was nothing indicative of a major drug issue in the schools,” Sisk said. “We did find drugs; we did find in the parking lot marijuana, for instance, in one of the vehicles. No hard drugs were found of any sorts – no heroin, no cocaine, nothing of that effect. The most common item, by far, were vapes (electronic cigarettes).”

Following the BOE meeting, in a phone interview, Sisk said vapes were found within the schools in lockers and backpacks.

During the public comments/delegations portion of the BOE meeting, Derrick Aegan, who has filed as a candidate for the Upshur County BOE in District 3, said he was glad to hear BOE member Long ask about the drug sweep.

“It is my understanding that there was a major drug trafficker in the school and up to five others who were escorted out,” Aegan said. “Also, that major drug trafficker was spotted on the grounds of Stockert Youth the same weekend. I just want to bring that up. I know you cannot discuss that.”

“Is that truth or is that hearsay?” BOE member Long asked.

“That is what I heard from the community,” Aegan answered.

“That is hearsay,” Long replied.

Sisk reported since the last BOE meeting, there have been three drills in the schools which include a ‘hostile intruder drill’ at Rock Cave Elementary School and Buckhannon-Upshur High School. He said French Creek Elementary School participated in a ‘missing child’ drill.

“During the drill at B-UHS, there were some rooms that were unable to be secured due to a substitute who did not have a key to the room,” Sisk said. “However, the students in those rooms took it upon themselves to barricade the doors. You cannot ask for more. That is a true testament to the ongoing practice of our drills will do for our students. The safety of our skills is why we have to continue these practices. I am very proud of our students.”

BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples asked Sisk if there was a way to address the issue and Sisk said they are looking for ways to identify a solution for that.

“Clearly, we are not going to give every substitute a master key to the building,” he said. “One potential solution is to have a key box so as the substitutes were checking in for the day, they could have a key to the room for the day. That is one potential option. We also utilize the slide locks that are magnetic that would block the door. We are looking for solutions.”

Sisk said following the drills, there was discussion to identify any gaps. He said each of the schools needed to have the windows numbered. Sisk said that in the past years, Upshur County Schools Director of Transportation Jodie Akers worked to assure all of the doors in each of the schools were numbered, and that had been completed.

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