TCOE spreads awareness on nation’s spiking drug use

Tulare County Office of Education hosts training for educational professionals to recognize potential drug impairment in students

TULARE COUNTY – As a general increase of drug use has been observed across the nation, the Tulare County Office of Education has set up a path to combat potential substance abuse amongst students.

The Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) is hosting a Drug Impairment Training for Educational Professionals (DITEP) program to spread awareness on drug impairment on April 17 and 18. The training will help administrators, educators, nurses and other student personnel discern signs of drug abuse amongst Tulare County students and what steps to take when addressing the circumstance.

“It’s basically just to give everybody a working knowledge of what impairment may look like [in affected students],” TCOE School Health Program manager Christina Hernandez said. “And just provide early recognition and intervention in the school setting if we needed to.”

Although there has not been an observed increase of drug use amongst Tulare County students, Rodriguez said substance abuse generally seen throughout the nation has encouraged the office to heighten awareness on the topic. According to Rodriguez, TCOE began offering the DITEP training at their office last year. Prior to setting up at the office, she said the associations would hold the workshop at a site with Visalia Unified School District.

According to the California Highway Patrol, DITEP will enable attendees to determine, first and foremost, if someone is impaired. If so, attendees will be able to determine if the individual is impaired due to a medical issue or if the problem is drug related. If the impairment turns out to be drug-related, attendees will be given the proper tools on determining what type of drug use is causing the impairment through proven diagnostic procedures.

The DITEP program was started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association following the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use. According to the California Highway Patrol, DITEP is derived from the national Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program, a law enforcement program used to detect drug and alcohol impaired drivers. 

For both days of the program’s training, the times are set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the TCOE Doe Avenue Complex at 7000 W Doe Ave in Visalia. The training will be conducted by an officer out of Sacramento along with two local officers of choice, who have not yet been determined, according to Rodriguez.

The first day of training will give attendees a brief overview of drugs as observed in society, policies, procedures and roles. Additionally, an overview of alcohol and drug identification and effects will be provided along with guidance in contacting parents. For the second day, which is optional, participants will be provided with the tools and procedures needed to evaluate a student’s impairment. However, participants must complete the first day of training before attending the second one.

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