Montgomery County Public Schools holds community forum on Fentanyl

Fentanyl overdoses among young people across the country are on the rise, and Montgomery County is no exception. So county school official hosted a community forum on Saturday to talk to parents about the deadly drug.

The informational forum was held by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and Montgomery Goes Purple on Saturday morning at Clarskburg High School.

During the community call to action, a packed cafeteria of parents learned about the dangers of Fentanyl and harm reduction techniques for Fentanyl users. The parents were also given Naxolone kits, also known as Narcan, and they trained on how to use the life-saving medication that can reverse or reduce the effects of an overdose.

The meeting comes after a reported spike in youth overdoses in Montgomery County. School leaders say as a result of the spike, they have had to increasingly use Narcan in schools.

FOX 5 has learned that as of January 24, MCPS has administered Narcan a total of 11 times since the first day of school back on August 29, 2022. Seven of those instances have come in the last six weeks.

READ MORE: Parents and teachers are concerned with how MCPS handles drug overdoses

Officials said that is one of many reasons why this forum was so important.

"This is something that every family should know about," Dr. Patricia Kapunan, Chief Medical Officer for MCPS tells FOX 5. "Really our most important role as parents is to be able to open up these conversations."

Conversations that Montgomery County mom Laura Mitchell, whose son battled substance abuse for 15 years, continues to push for.

"I realized that he was not the only one who needed help, most of his childhood friends didn’t survive this," Mitchell said. "It may not even be your child, it maybe your child’s friend, but to see that would be very traumatizing for you and them so prepare - educate and prepare."

Mitchell says her son is now seven years in recovery, but she knows too many families who are not so lucky.

"This is a really critical problem that we’re experiencing right now," MCPS Director of Public Information Jessica Baxter had previously told FOX 5. "This is not one of those traditional substance abuse problems that we’re seeing. It’s very pervasive and prevalent in the community, and we want families to be aware and talk to their children about the risks that are out there."

READ MORE: Youth overdose deaths increased by 120% in Montgomery County

Officials with the DEA’s Washington Division – which covers D.C., Maryland, and Virginia – said that in 2022, they confiscated nearly 160,000 fake pills containing Fentanyl and more than 250 pounds of Fentanyl powder. 

According to DEA Special Agent in Charge Jared Forget,"that’s enough to kill 54 percent, half, of all the residents in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C., and that’s, that’s frightening."