LAS VEGAS, N.M. — A Northern New Mexico school district may require all teachers, staff and student athletes to undergo drug testing amid an opioid crisis that has severely hurt parts of the region.
West Las Vegas Schools is considering a proposal that would mandate drug testing aimed at monitoring staff as a precaution, the Las Vegas Optic reported.
“In light of the recent events of what’s happened at schools, I think that anybody, or any teacher, any administrator who may be using a prescription medication or may be using narcotics, poses a safety threat to the school,” said West Las Vegas school board member Ambrosio Castellano, who introduced the proposal this month.
Castellano said those using narcotics or medications may not be fully aware or fully coherent during an emergency.
He cited a poll conducted among teachers that found 35 percent of them said that their stress level was very high, and they were coping by taking antidepressants or other medications.
Superintendent Chris Gutierrez said he would look into the issue and conduct a survey to get feedback from teachers.
Castellano said he came up with the idea after he attended a National School Board Conference in San Antonio, Texas, where an insurance provider presented an opioid forum on the epidemic among teachers.
It’s unclear if the proposal would require testing of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and opioids, or just opioids.
New Mexico had one of the highest overdose rates in the nation for the better part of two decades and only recently plateaued amid a series of pioneering policies aimed at combating opioid addiction, including becoming the first state to require law enforcement agencies to provide officers with overdose antidote kits.
The state also has a prescription monitoring database to prevent overlapping drug sales and has expanded access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse overdoses.