Lander school board, superintendent address growing concern of youth drug use; issue letter to community

    (Lander, WY) – The FCSD #1 school board and superintendent Mike Harris have shared the following letter to the community, concerning “the growing issue of drug presence” in Lander schools.

    Dear Community Members,

    As trustees of the Fremont County School District #1 School Board, along with the Superintendent of Schools, we write to express our urgent concern regarding the growing issue of drug presence within our schools.


    We are reaching out to parents and community members alike, recognizing that safeguarding our children from the dangers of drug use is a shared responsibility.

    It is imperative to understand the grave risks associated with substance abuse, especially for our youth. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that drugs pose significantly greater dangers to developing minds than to adults. The effects can be long-lasting, impacting academic performance, mental health, and overall well-being.

    Of particular concern is the increasing strength of marijuana, which has become far more potent than ever before. Its widespread availability exacerbates the challenge we face in keeping our schools drug-free.

    Sadly, this year alone, FCSD#1 has witnessed multiple serious drug-related medical events, signaling a disturbing trend that demands immediate and sustained attention.


    Furthermore, the availability of drugs is no longer confined to higher grade levels; we are now seeing evidence of drug use even among elementary students. This alarming development underscores the urgency of our plea for collective action.

    Parents play a crucial role in detecting and preventing drug use among their children. We encourage parents to remain vigilant and look out for signs of drug use, including changes in behavior, declining academic performance, sudden mood swings, physical symptoms such as bloodshot eyes or unexplained weight loss, secretive behavior, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and sudden changes in social circles. 

    Moreover, it is essential to highlight the difficulty in detecting THC use due to vaping, which has become increasingly prevalent among adolescents. Vaping devices can easily conceal the presence of THC, making it challenging for parents and educators alike to identify substance abuse.


    In addition, dangerous over-the-counter products such as Kratom and Delta-8 are also impacting children in our community. Parents and community members must be made aware that just because these substances are legal and widely available in Lander does not mean they are safe, especially for developing brains.

    We encourage members of our community, especially parents, to educate themselves on the dangerous side effects of these drugs.

    In recent years, Fremont #1 has undertaken significant efforts to educate students on the dangers of substance use and embracing healthy alternatives. These efforts were detailed during a school board presentation on September 19, 2023 and include the following (and more):

    • Therapeutic counseling services for students (K-12)
    • Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) grant activities focused on prevention, education and curbing substance use
    • Safe2Tell anonymous tip reporting system
    • Two full-time school resource officers
    • Drug testing program for all students involved in school activities (starting with 2024-2025 school year)
    • Multiple guest speaker presentations for students, staff, and parents (i.e. Tall Cop, Lisa Strohman, Laura Stack, Officer Gomez, Dee Hankins, Josh Varner, and other thought leaders)
    • Partnership with Care Solace, free mental health coordination service for students, staff and parents
    • Character Strong and 7 Mindsets instruction for students

      In our ongoing efforts to create a safe and nurturing environment for our students, however, we humbly ask for the support and collaboration of the wider community.

      At a special board meeting on February 2, the Board made plans to host a community meeting on April 4 to build a coordinated strategy aimed at reducing drug use by young people. We are hoping to engage a wide spectrum of community partners to reduce availability, prevent experimentation and regular use, and emphasize alternatives to substance use. By promoting a positive, drug-free climate, together, we can help steer our children away from the destructive path of substance abuse.

      Let us join forces to protect the future of our community—the young minds entrusted to our care.


      Fremont County School District #1 Trustees: Jared Kail, Scott Jensen, Dr. Kathy Hitt, Taylor Jacobs, Dr. Aileen Brew, Karen Harms, and Mike McConnell, Fremont County School District #1 Superintendent: Mike Harris

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