But Howard said it is too early to tell how effective Whitney has been at curtailing under-aged drinking as he has been resolving issues happening in the schools on a daily basis.
“Since he’s been in there, unfortunately it’s been non-stop,” Howard said.
Andrea Egmont, director of Youth Services for the city, said under-aged drinking on high school grounds was uncommon, pointing to a 2012 study that showed only 6 percent of students claimed to have consumed alcohol while at school within 30 days of the time they were interviewed. The poll was conducted in 2011 as part of a Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
“It’s not a majority of the kids by any means,” Egmont said.
But when asked if they had taken illegal drugs on school grounds over a one-year period, 23 percent of students said yes.
Parents have begun stepping up as well. Recently, a Newburyport mother began a parent support group aimed at offering parents a place to pool their ideas and vent their frustrations with other parents. Another group, looking into the growing problem of K2 abuse, is also in the works. K2 is a legal substance similar to potpourri, which can be smoked to produce a hallucination high.
Egmont said Youth Services is also exploring non-punitive measures that will focus on getting students the help they need rather than punish them for past transgressions. The Newburyport School District has been working closely with Youth Services, she said.
Last week, one of the two teens, Christopher Gallagher, 18, of 314 High St., Newburyport, avoided jail time when he pleaded out to being a person under 21 in possession of alcohol charge. Gallagher admitted to sufficient facts to Judge Allen Swan, who then ordered his case continued without finding for three months. Should Gallagher remain out of trouble and pay $100 in court costs, the charge against him would be tossed.