Parents who attended a Local School Improvement Council meeting Thursday evening at Capital High School had mixed views on plans for a drug rehabilitation center to be built near the school.
The Kanawha County school board voted Tuesday to donate 50 acres of school property located across the road from Capital High to the T-Center -- a freestanding, residential addiction treatment facility in the works.
Many parents, including Lisa Henry, were surprised the plans weren’t part of the structured agenda at Thursday’s meeting.
“When we walked in, there was an agenda already made up,” she said. “There was nothing on the agenda about that.”
Henry was one of the parents opposed to plans for the facility, which would be located atop a secluded hill off W.Va. 114 directly across from Capital High.
“I think it’s a terrible idea,” she said. “I think this is something the board has kind of slid under the table and went ahead and voted on it. I think if it would have been known that they were voting on it last night, it would have given parents a chance to come down to the board office and voice their opinions.”
David Lane had also hoped it would be brought up.
“I was just interested in how it all came about and where it was going to be located,” he said. “I was wanting to know when they were planning on opening. I didn’t want to disrupt the agenda so I just stayed quiet.”
Several parents, including Jessica Lane, said they aren’t worried about the proposed facility.
“I feel like drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers have an interest in the privacy of their patients, and there would be very little interaction between the high school and the center,” she said. “Also, it’s on the other side of a busy road and students have no reason to be on the other side of the street.”
Joanie Panger, president of the Local School Improvement Council, said at the beginning of the meeting she anticipated there would be an open comment period and the T-center would be brought up during that time.
The hour of time allotted for the meeting was spent discussing efforts to create a new website, scheduling and clubs available at the school. Principal Clinton Giles also spent a good amount of time talking about efforts to improve communication between parents and school faculty and administration. A slideshow also highlighted student achievements at the high school.
After the meeting, Panger said she was shocked the topic didn’t come up, but also noted meeting organizers were trying to focus on positive efforts at the high school.
“I think it may have been because we were trying to cover too many other things, and there wasn’t a lull moment,” she said. “There was just so much information the administration felt we needed to have and needed to get across.”
Giles said concerns about the T-center were best saved for outside the meeting.
“It’s because the parents in our community are able to place things in the proper perspective and prioritize to the extent that the issue was not an issue we wanted to discuss tonight,” he said. “As you can see by way of the leadership the president provided, we wanted to celebrate past achievements and project it on to the future so that we might have an even more successful year this year.”
He said many parents had contacted the school about the T-center.
“We hear a great deal of talk about the desire to increase parental and community involvement in the decision-making within the school,” he said. “That is what we did tonight with this meeting. Clearly, the decision regarding the T-center, with all of the emphasis being placed on parental and community involvement, was made without hardly any of that.”
School board members previously told the Gazette there would be no interaction between students and T-center patients, while school board member Ryan White also pointed out treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is highly needed in the state.
West Virginia has the highest per capita overdose rate in the nation and, in 2013, alcohol-related highway crashes in the state cost more than $720 million.
The T-Center, a project of the nonprofit Kanawha Valley Fellowship Home, will offer detoxification, a 12-step program and comprehensive family and education programs with a slew of resources and facilities.
Reach Erin Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5163 or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.