A strong, yet slightly flexible, message against drug use in Provo's public schools will soon be sent out to students and their parents.

Rather than simply expelling a student for using, possessing or distributing tobacco, alcohol, drugs or other similarly harmful substances, Provo School District students may be expelled but will also be asked to participate in prevention curricula to help them make decisions toward a healthier lifestyle.At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the district's board of education adopted the new drug-free school policy and gave its support to programs that require school and parent cooperation in preventing drug abuse.

The policy states that "any student use, possession, sale or distribution of alcohol, controlled substances, imitation controlled substances and/

or other similarly harmful substances or drug paraphernalia" is prohibited by the district.

Any prescribed controlled medications must also be monitored through the school nurse or school administration.

Misuse of prescription drugs "is really an issue for us," said Board President David Weight. "It is really a biggie. The message should go out that if students are carrying a bottle of narcotics, they will be liable."

Kathy Luke, elementary education curriculum director, said, "There is some flexibility. We want to help them, not just kick them out and district hop."

For each offense, the policy details steps that must be taken for disciplinary action. These steps range from suspension to notification of the appropriate law enforcement agency to permanent expulsion.

Students may also be asked to sign a contract saying they will not use the specific substance. The contract is signed not only by the student, but by a parent and school administrator.

Records of violations will be kept on the student's record for grades seven through 12. The record of previous violations will be taken into account before a transferring student is enrolled in the district.