Hanging on a wall in Chrisandra Richardson’s office is a photo of a past Montgomery County student, Jeremy, who died of a drug overdose.
“Jeremy is often in my thoughts as we focus on our work at MCPS,” said Richardson, the associate superintendent of special education and student services at Montgomery County Public Schools.
Despite what Richardson and her team do for drug prevention and awareness in county schools, students still become involved with drugs, and the number of drug overdoses in the county is growing, said Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring.
To better combat the problem, the school system must get more data and begin to spread prevention programs that work, council members said Thursday at a committee meeting.
Councilman Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said the school system should have a more standardized way for principals and teachers to address drug problems they find out about.
Richardson said privacy laws restrict much of the information that is shared regarding student drug problems, but that some successful programs have ways of gathering data, and they could be used as models going forward.
Rice also said the school system should involve parents more in letting them know about the drug and alcohol-related curriculum.
The school system’s health curriculum starting in kindergarten talks about the dangers and health risks of alcohol and drugs, and how to make the right decisions, said Elizabeth Brown, director of curriculum and instruction.
The curriculum addresses more serious problems as students move up in grades.
“Before now, teachers squeezed it in, or not,” Brown said. “We now have a nine-week marking period to address all of the health standards, including this one.”