2010-10-07 / News

Proposed parking permit policy at N.K.H.S. to include safe driving contract

By Eileen M. Daly

The North Kingstown Substance Abuse Task Force has joined with North Kingstown School Committee Chairman Larry Ceresi to put forth a proposal to establish a parking permit policy at North Kingstown High School that would include a mandated safe driving contract.

According to the proposal, “The safety and education of young drivers is becoming a nationwide priority as the incidents of young drivers involved in traffic accidents and fatalities are occurring far too frequently. The North Kingstown School Department has joined community partners in an effort to specifi cally address this issue through enhanced education and awareness of our students and parents.”

The proposal aims to link access to a parking permit at the high school with a series of mandated educational safety requirements. According to the proposal, these requirements would include the following: Students and parents would be required to watch a movie filmed in and about the North Kingstown community relating to substance abuse, participate in a discussion following the film and take a test. They would then review and sign a contract that “will clarify the values of safety and good decision making in North Kingstown families.”

According to documents released by the school committee chairman, the policy is needed because there is still a high level of reported drinking and driving by high school students on the Health and Wellness Surveys given at the high school level. “Young people are given access to cars and may not be given the guidance and guidelines necessary to ensure that they are driving safely.” The proposed policy aims to increase awareness through participation in these educational safety programs.

According to the policy materials released by Ceresi, intervention can play a unique role in preventing drinking-and-driving-related tragedies involving young drivers. “A parking permit policy is a vehicle for addressing the issue of youth drinking and driving through enhanced education and awareness of our students and parents. If the intervention was not implemented, more needless tragedies might occur, with the resulting monetary and emotional costs to the individuals and community.”

The collaboration between Ceresi and the task force in the making of this proposed policy evolved through an ongoing relationship. “I’ve worked closely with them on several initiatives and enjoy helping them move these things forward into implementation. They are a hard-working wonderful group who are truly concerned for the health and safety of our students and community,” Ceresi said.

These interventions are only in the proposal stage and will not be instituted unless and until the school committee approves the policy, Ceresi said.

“I want to stress that at this stage, we are merely trying to raise awareness and stimulate education and discussions about a very important matter, keeping our students and community safe! Through involving the press in this matter, we are hoping to receive feedback and input from the students and community before we approach any potential implementation stages,” Ceresi said.

Ceresi also made it a point to say that he, as well as the members of the North Kingstown Substance Abuse Task Force, welcomes the input of the community in solving this serious social concern. In order for the proposal to actually come to fruition, there would have to be a collaborative effort on the part of the entire community, Ceresi said.

“I look forward to having an open discussion with parents and students and value their input and help in making this a good thing for our community. As parents, we all always worry whenever our children leave home and get into a car. We all need to work together to ensure their safety,” he said.

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