Yuma Union High School District is taking steps toward making drug abuse a more open conversation in Yuma County.
The district began the conversation in February with presentations by school resource officers at all six YUHSD high schools, Crane Middle School and Fourth Avenue Junior High School.
The conversation continued last month as the district provided a two-day Drug Impairment Training for Educational Professionals (DITEP) seminar to district staff. The training, conducted by Tucson Police Officer Bill Honomichl, was designed to help campus leaders recognize signs of impairment and provide proper attention while ensuring students’ well-being.
“We are trying to bridge the gap from saying, ‘A student showed up at school and I think they’re high’ to ‘We spent about an hour with the student and we believe them to be ingesting or using one or more of these seven drug categories based on my training and experience,’” Honomichl said in a press release.
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Arizona is one of three states (Kansas and New York being the other two) that independently develops training to address and combat drug abuse in educational environments.
“It’s been a need throughout the nation,” said Eric Patten, Yuma Union High School District Chief Communications Officer. “It’s more or less a proactive step for us.”
The district is heading further down the path of proactivity by hosting two community presentations from local and federal law enforcement Tuesday, Oct. 29, in the San Luis High School multipurpose room and Wednesday, Oct. 30 in the Cibola High School auditorium, both from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
These presentations are open to all members of the community and will focus on the dangers of opiods and vaping.
“What we’ve found is this national epidemic…is a community problem that starts at home,” Patten said. “The only way we can combat the issue is by raising the awareness of the entire community and not just looking at one entity to take care of it.”
Patten said the district expects to undergo more DITEP staff trainings within the next 12 – 18 months.