GIRARD SCHOOLS Expert talks of Shoaf, drug-abuse symptoms

The use of cocaine and Viagra as a cocktail has been in this area for about six months, an abuse counselor said.
GIRARD -- The loss of inhibition and good judgment are symptoms consistent with heavy drug use, a veteran substance abuse counselor says.
Murphy Lewis, clinical coordinator at Humility of Mary Health Partners' New Start Treatment Center in Warren, has made this and other observations in the wake of felony charges filed against former Girard school Superintendent Joseph Shoaf.
Shoaf, of Cortland, has been indicted by a Trumbull County grand jury on five counts, including possession of cocaine and trafficking in cocaine.
According to a police affidavit, a 17-year-old student tape-recorded Shoaf on April 23 when the two allegedly used cocaine in his office.
He also was drinking vodka and gave her lace bra and panties to later model for him, the document indicates.
Loss of judgment
Lewis, a master addiction counselor with 19 years of experience specializing in forensic behavior, said as cocaine use progresses, the user's boundaries of behavior become more gray.
"He didn't get to that position because he was stupid," Lewis said of Shoaf, who has a doctorate and was named superintendent in his mid-30s. "He was on the fast track."
Shoaf had to be dedicated and disciplined to get as far has he had, Lewis added. Shoaf was named superintendent last August. Before that, he was junior high school principal for two years.
Lewis said that, generally, with increased cocaine use, there is a loss of good decision-making abilities, loss of inhibitions and morals.
Also in the affidavit, police say they heard Shoaf on tape caution the teen-ager that there may be Viagra in the cocaine.
Lewis explained that a Viagra-cocaine cocktail was first seen in the area about six months ago.
Because cocaine constricts blood vessels, addicts lose the desire or ability to perform sexually, he noted. Viagra is the most commonly known medication used to treat impotency.
Lewis said some people may turn to cocaine use to relieve the stress of balancing work with family.
Drug screening
To deal with drug use by employees, Lewis said he favors a drug-free workplace policy.
Jamie DeVore, president of the Girard Board of Education, said at a board meeting last week the district will review its drug policy as part of an ongoing update of all policies.
Lewis said he favors pre-employment drug screenings and random drug testing.
"I'm a big proponent of it," he said, noting such testing reduces accidents and absenteeism.
He said a policy of having random drug testing can save 10 percent to 20 percent in workers' compensation premiums and provides accountability in the workforce.
Treasurer Mark Bello said the district has "a drug-free policy," but only school bus drivers are randomly tested for drug use.
After an employee is convicted of drug violations, the worker can be disciplined, including discharge, or provided rehabilitation.
It isn't known if Shoaf was tested for drug use.
Though teacher applicants aren't tested before they are hired, Bello said his contract with the district allows for random testing.

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