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Officials collaborate on drug program

Schools, county, city team up for voluntary, club-based prevention

Posted: July 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 7, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

City, county and school district officials are working together on a new drug-interdiction program aimed at Santa Clarita Valley junior high and high school students.

The Drug Free Youth in Town program, which starts next month, will be a voluntary, club-based program in junior high schools and high schools, said Community Services Supervisor Ingrid Hardy.

“This program really focuses on the assets, as opposed to the deficiencies,” Hardy said.

Instead of the city’s STAR program, which focused on fifth- and sixth-graders, the new program focuses on junior high and high school kids, Hardy said. The program educates, empowers, recognizes and celebrates drug-free students.

Students enrolled in the program then serve as peer mentors for other teens, Hardy said.

When students sign up for the program, they agree to voluntarily submit to drug testing, Hardy said.

In Miami, which has 3,600 students participating in the program, 99.7 percent of those enrolled tested free of drugs, Hardy said. The students participating in the program are evaluated through drug testing, school disciplinary records, crime reports, medical data and self-reporting.

The STAR program was eliminated partially because surveys of Santa Clarita Valley young people indicated the program didn’t help keep them off drugs, Hardy said.

“The STAR program has run its course,” Hardy said.

City staff still want to look at programs for elementary school kids and plan to have a pilot program in which older teens could mentor younger elementary school children, Hardy said.

In order to conduct the Drug Free Youth in Town program, the city is going to be rehiring a supervisor that will oversee the Drug Free Youth in Town program, the Blue Ribbon Task Force and other community programs.

The new program will be funded with $186,000 in city general funds, along with $30,000 each year for two years from Los Angeles County, Hardy said.

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