Q&A with Mark Litzau

RV assistant principal sits down with the Review to talk about recent events relating to LSD use that saw more than a dozen students expelled or suspended


Lynsey Johnson

Mark Litzau has been an assistant principal at RV for the past three years, and the recent influx of hardcore drug use at the school has caught him by surprise.

Spencer Ackerman, Staff Writer

Earlier this month, more than a dozen Ralston Valley students were either suspended or expelled from Ralston Valley for either using or distributing LSD on campus. In addition, on-campus tobacco use via Juuls or vaping systems has increased dramatically over the past year. The distribution and drug use on campus was taken up by the administration and the Arvada Police Department. Ralston Valley assistant principal Mr. Mark Litzau sat down with The Review to talk about the situation and how it has effected the school.

Review: Are the punishments going to get more severe as the time goes on?

Mr. Mark Litzau: For the drug stuff or vaping stuff?

Review: Well, how will all offenses be handled as we move forward?

Litzau: The drug offense is pretty prescribed by the (Jefferson County) conduct code. Let’s say (Campus Security Guard) Guss brought down the three of you and I found out you’re under the influence or in possession.

You get (suspended) five days (for drugs) for a first offense, and that is outlined in the conduct code. So, no, they are not going to get any more from that perspective.

The vaping thing, the story about the bathrooms being vandalized, and because a lot of vaping continues to occur, forced us to go around to every class and make a very consistent policy. For a first offense of possession (at Ralston Valley) it is a day suspension, while other local schools have three day suspensions for a first offense. So, we have already proven that if that continues we can change our policy. I’m not able to do some of my job responsibilities because I’m suspending a lot of kids.

Review: How are you going to handle situations like this in the future?

Litzau: The biggest shock I felt was the number. So, I still have the teacher’s heart, and I still look at it as a learning opportunity, like, ‘hey, you screwed up, but how do I help the student?’ It does not have to be something that affects them forever. So, how do we create a response for the system that allows people to avoid that? I don’t have a plan moving forward except that there has to be learning involved and it has to be kid focused.

Review: Do you think that these kids who got suspended or expelled deserve a second chance?

Litzau: I think that there are two answers for that. The expulsion piece – the selling — I struggle allowing them back into the building even if it’s the first time because I have to be concerned about the other 1,850 kids here.

Whatever we decide to do with these students moving forward I have to convince them not to do it again. A

I struggle allowing them back into the building even if it’s the first time because I have to be concerned about the other 1,850 kids here”

— Mr. Mark Litzau

nd then I have to put such a penalty that their friends will be scared to do it, too. I think that’s the part of what we can do moving forward.

When it comes to selling it doesn’t matter because the conduct code states and administrators have moved to expel. After that, parents can appeal and the district may change that approach and suspensions for that is an automatic five days, and I think they do get a second chance. The parent involvement is different because a lot of them are first timers.

Review: Why do you think this is happening to underclassmen as opposed to juniors and seniors?

Litzau: When did DARE stop? I don’t know if DARE disappeared before this freshman or sophomore class came around, but maybe that played a part. I don’t know if background would be part of that. For a kid to think LSD helps them relax, well, it is just not true.