Elysburg teen had marijuana in hidden compartment in backpack
By Justin Strawser
CATAWISSA RR - A Southern Columbia Area senior is facing drug and related charges for allegedly having a small amount of marijuana and a glass pipe in his backpack at the high school.
Two misdemeanors each of possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia and a summary offense of disorderly conduct against Kyle Geo Zigarski, 18, of 879 Bear Gap Road, Elysburg, were filed Dec. 27 by Locust Township Patrolman Nicholas Thorpe in the office of Columbia County Magisterial District Judge Craig W. Long, Catawissa.
According to the affidavit, township Patrolman Jarrod Rider was dispatched to the high school at 3 p.m. Dec. 7 for a report of a student in possession of marijuana on school property.
Rider met with middle school Principal Angela Farronato, who was handling the incident due to the absence of high school Principal James Becker.
Farronato told Rider that Zigarski had given consent to her and two guidance counselors, Thomas Donlan and Jenna Sellers, to search his bag.
According to the SCA student handbook, students and their personal effects, such as backpacks, are private property, but may be inspected or searched when a school authority reasonably suspects that the student possesses illegal, unauthorized, dangerous or stolen items.
Upon opening it, police said Zigarski said they would "find something" in his bag and directed them to a hidden compartment, which contained a small plastic container with a small amount of a leafy green substance.
The senior admitted to having a glass pipe consistent with the type used to smoke marijuana in his possession, and turned it over to the principal, police said.
At 11:37 a.m. Dec. 9, Thorpe questioned Zigarski, who said the glass pipe was his, but the marijuana was not, claiming a friend must have placed it there without his consent.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. March 12 in front of Long.
According to the handbook, use or possession of drugs or alcohol can result in a 10-day suspension, referral for prosecution or possible expulsion.
Becker noted at Monday night's school board meeting that it is school policy not to discuss students and any actions taken against them by administration.
However, he said Wednesday, "Without talking about specific cases, I try to be as consistent as I can with all discipline. If there's a violation in the handbook, the discipline will follow what's in the handbook."
It doesn't matter whether the student is an athlete, band member or not part of any extracurricular activity, the punishment must be consistent, he said.
The only time a "creative punishment" would take place is if a parent requested their child to serve community service around the school, or a student in trouble with the law requests to help around the school to fulfill community service expectations, he said.