109 city students were tested positive for having drugs in their system during school year 2014-15, according to district records.
Students have been found under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. Some students also brought narcotics like heroin, prescription pills, and marijuana into school buildings, according a district report.
Two students were found in possession of over 20 packets of heroin during the 2014-15 school year, according to the report. The district tested 147 students. 109 were found positive. And 38 were found negative, according to the report.
The number of positive cases increased by 12 from the 2013-14 school year.
More male students were found positive than female students, said Kathy Lepore, supervisor of substance awareness programs.
Historic data shows city schools had the lowest number of positives in 2007-8 school year with 50 cases. “Ever since SACs were cut, we have reversed it, we have more positives than negatives,” said Lepore.
Substance abuse counselors (SACs) conduct outreach and disseminate information to prevent substance abuse among students, said Lepore. She said in 2009-10 the district had 24 SACs. Last year the district had 12. This year it has 11.
The number of positives reached its highest peak in 2010-11 with 130 cases.
The district had the second highest number of students tested positive for drugs of any school districts in New Jersey in 2013-14 school year. The city had 97 cases where students tested positive. Jersey City, with the highest number of positives, had 106 cases, according to New Jersey Department of Education data.
“How chronic is this issue?” asked school board member Errol Kerr.
“It’s chronic,” responded Lepore.
Kerr asked Lepore if the district had adequate staff to tackle the issue.
She indicated it did not.
Outside of school buildings a heroin epidemic fueled by suburban demand continues to rage on in the city.