New Mexico district considers drug tests amid opioid epidemic
- Officials at West Las Vegas Schools in northern New Mexico are considering a plan to require drug testing among all teachers, staff members and student athletes, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
- A member of the district’s school board proposed the idea after attending a National School Boards Association conference where a presenter discussed the use of opioids among teachers.
- The district’s superintendent says he will conduct a survey of teachers to collect feedback. The state has implemented efforts to address opioid addiction, such as requiring law enforcement agencies to provide officers with antidote kits, creating a prescription monitoring database, and expanding access to the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.
Schools are educating teachers on how to respond to opioid addiction among their students’ families, purchasing supplies of naloxone and seeing the impact of widespread use in the form of higher absenteeism rates and lack of attention to children’s basic needs. But some schools might have to look at whether addiction is actually affecting those who work in schools and classrooms, as well.
In 2016, a teacher using only her first name, Michelle, told NBC News that she would teach high on heroin and even shoot up in the teacher’s restroom. She lost her job and ended up in a treatment program after a third DUI arrest. She eventually sought certification to help others with addiction. In November last year, a special education teacher at a school in the Bronx, NY, died from a fentanyl overdose in a faculty restroom.
As districts work to ensure that educators have professionals such as social workers and counselors to work with if they see the effects of addiction on students, they can also work with human resources to make sure staff members know who to contact if they are struggling with a substance use issue — even if it began with prescription medication.
- Santa Fe New Mexican Las Vegas, N.M., school district may mandate drug tests for students, staff
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