HCPSS strives to support students prior to disciplinary infractions involving tobacco, drugs and/or alcohol. Student services staff members are available to support and discuss with students and families. In addition, supportive actions may include, but are not limited to, free, non-disciplinary, non-punitive, individualized services such as counseling; mental health services referral, increased monitoring or supervision; parent conferences, referral to the school’s Student Support Team (SST), and referral to Student Assistance Program (SAP).
In alignment with Board of Education Policy 1050 Alcohol, Drug, and Tobacco Free Environment, HCPSS has accelerated its efforts to address student drug and alcohol use and abuse. We are enlisting the help of the entire HCPSS community to reflect on current efforts, and suggest improvements and next steps.
Ongoing Efforts to Mitigate the Harms of Substance Abuse
HCPSS received competitive grant funding for the 2022-2023 school year from the State of Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center. Staff will be seeking additional grant funds to continue and expand professional development, school-based activities, and student support groups during the 2023-2024 school year. The funds have helped support the following activities:
- Having a Student Assistance Program representative at each secondary school. The SAP representative serves on the school’s Student Support Team and focuses on providing supports to students experiencing negative consequences from substance use.
- Holding quarterly meetings with SAP representatives to provide additional professional learning around substance use, better understand the problems HCPSS schools are contending with in this area, and work with SAP representatives and other school staff on planning family events and student activities to reduce student use and abuse.
- Instructing students on the dangers of substance use, teaching refusal techniques and strengthening coping skills through the health curriculum.
- Ensuring administrators, School Resource Officers, and security assistants receive up-to-date professional learning around substance use in schools.
- Providing direction to staff on supervision of critical areas such as restrooms.
- Partnering with community groups, such as HC DrugFree and Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, to provide student and family programming.
- Holding community events to strengthen our partnership with all stakeholders to address the implications of state trends showing increased student substance use.
- Working with the Howard County Health Department to have Certified Peer Specialists in some Howard County high schools to help students to live without substance use or decrease substance use, after being engaged in substance use.
- Piloting weekly student support and intervention groups at some HCPSS schools. After receiving parental consent, students meet weekly with a mental health professional to work on identifying and using systems of support and building necessary coping skills.
- Partnering with HCHD to provide Narcan trainings in schools for adults and evidence-based smoking cessation and electronic smoking devices and vaping prevention education through the Tobacco Awareness Program for Teens, and
- Contracting with a public health and public policy research firm to conduct a review of current literature on preventing and addressing student drug use, analyze aggregate HCPSS data, conduct focus groups, and share relevant findings and national best practices in substance abuse prevention and treatment.