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4 SCV deaths from drug overdoses so far this year

Civil leaders propose new drug program to Hart district officials

Posted: March 9, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: March 9, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Four local residents have died of drug overdoses this year alone, officials told Hart school district board members during a meeting this week.

“The four deaths were drug-related,” said Capt. Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

“There were not heroin deaths — probably OxyContin,” Becker said, adding he is still awaiting final word on cause of death from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.

Becker and other civic leaders updated educators Wednesday night about a new drug intervention program called the Drug Free Youth in Town program.

The program is picking up support in Florida, William S. Hart Union High School board members were told, learning of four fatal examples why such a program is necessary.

The bottom line for promoters making their point, however, remained: Four local people died from drugs within two months.

Joining Becker at the podium Wednesday were Kathy Hunter, coordinator of student services for the school district, and

Ken Striplin, assistant city manager for the city of Santa Clarita.

The Drug Free Youth in Town program is made up of three key components, including:

n Participating kids volunteer to join a on campus.

n Club members sign a contract agreeing to submit to random drug tests and to complete a minimum number of community service hours.

n The youth embrace sober living and set leadership role models for their peers.

“They visited Dade County, Florida, and talked to about a dozen students, teachers and law enforcement personnel,” said Gail Pinsker, spokeswoman for the Hart district, about the program’s three local promoters.

“Basically, they met with their counterparts there,” she said. “And they determined that this program would be good here — with similar demographics and the same quality of education.

“We’re thrilled that the city is supporting this program,” she said.

Although the Drug Free Youth in Town program has yet to be officially approved and funding undertaken by the city, it’s expected to replace the long-standing STAR program, Pinsker said.

The STAR — Success Through Awareness and Resistance program targets Santa Clarita Valley students in grades 5 and 6 and warns them about drugs and gangs.

The Drug Free Youth in Town program recognizes kids who choose to live a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

The mission of program promoters, according to their website, is to support the development of healthy, productive, drug-free youth.

In Florida, more than 7,000 students take part in the program at about 70 middle schools and high schools, according to the website maintained by the program’s promoters


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