Two Socorro High School students have been found with fentanyl on the campus in the last two weeks.
This is the first-time fentanyl has ever been found in a student’s possession while on campus at one of the Socorro schools, said Superintendent Ron Hendrix.
“We’ve had pot and we’ve found oxycodone before in the past, but we’ve never found fentanyl,” he said.
No one has been caught selling drugs at the middle or high school.
The incidents have the school board and the district administration worried. The Socorro Consolidated School District board and Hendrix want parents to pay close attention to their high school and middle school students.
“We need to make an absolute plea, if we’ve ever needed to make a plea, to parents to please get involved,” Board President Dave Hicks said during Monday’s school board meeting. “We need parents to step up and help. We need parents to make sure. Get in a sock drawer, get in the backpacks. If there’s a little bit of strange behavior, figure this out.”
One of the students seemed high when fentanyl was found in their possession, Hendrix told the Chieftain, although they could not test the student to verify that assumption.
Hendrix’s biggest concern is that a student could die from fentanyl use.
“We lost that kid last year that killed (them)self, and I just feel like it’s going to happen again, and I can’t get law enforcement’s attention. Law enforcement wants to, but nothing’s happening,” said Hendrix.
Hendrix would like the state legislature to allocate funding to pay security staff in schools, because he thinks more security staff are necessary to address the issue.
One of the ideas for addressing drugs being brought into school is to implement a dads on duty program, like the kind created in a Louisiana school district, said Hicks.
“They weren’t there as police guys. They weren’t there to bust anybody,” Hicks told the board. “They were there as dads, just to talk, just to hang out. So, there’s another adult, if they need to talk about something they can. If they need to talk to somebody they can.”
Another idea is to bring the Coordinated Community Response (CCR) person working for Positive Outcomes, into the high school. The district already has a draft memorandum of understanding with Positive Outcomes, local law enforcement and the district attorney’s office to make that happen.
The CCR staffer would be paid by Positive Outcomes to work with legislators, schools, parents, law enforcement and the district attorney to gather and share information, said school board member and Positive Outcomes CEO Tara Jaramillo.
The CCR staff member is an attorney and has worked for the state Children, Youth and Families Department previously. Their office would be located in the high school, but they would be a Positive Outcomes employee who would try to connect the different entities involved in responding when a student is using drugs.
“Out in the community, we’re seeing a lot of issues with substance use, with drug trafficking, which is leading to domestic violence, child abuse and believe it or not, even human trafficking in Socorro,” Casa de Luz Director JC Trujillo told the school board. “Early intervention is going to be key.”
Casa de Luz is a branch of Positive Outcomes that offers family support services. Trujillo was not on the agenda to speak but was asked to speak during the meeting as part of the superintendent’s report, which kicked off the discussion on fentanyl in the high school.
“Since November, since we’ve started gathering youth data, we have 62 children that have tested positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl and so that’s where the addiction is starting and so they’re starting to have that craving and they have that need,” said Trujillo.
Trujillo said that one issue he’s seen is fentanyl liquified into vapes. Vapes are commonly used by students for substances like nicotine and marijuana.
Some of the youth he’s spoken with have no difficulty acquiring fentanyl.
“I had a student tell me that they can just walk right up and identify who has some and they buy some right in the community. Luckily, the ones I’ve talked to have denied that they’re buying it at school,” said Trujillo.
Existing Security Measures
The school district already has cameras directed at the high school and middle school bathrooms and has recently installed vape detectors in the bathrooms at the high school and middle school. The vape detectors were installed to detect marijuana use on the school campuses but are also capable of detecting other substances, said Hendrix.
The district has also ordered drug testing kits, so the principals can quickly test suspected fentanyl if they find any more in their schools.
In other business, the school district will be spending double the amount originally planned on security film for school windows, so that more windows can be secured.
The security film is designed so that if someone shoots at a window it will not break, and the window will be difficult to break through even after being shot.
The district has already spent $47,000 for security film that has already been installed on exterior windows, but the superintendent went through the schools and found more windows that are appropriate for security film.
The additional security film will raise the overall cost to almost $100,000 and will be installed in January and February.
The money for the security film came from state funds for capital improvements.