Tracking drugs in schools across Yakima County

YAKIMA, Wash. -- KIMA is keeping track of drugs winding up in schools across Yakima County. Most districts saw drug incidents drop last school year. However, a few caught more students with drugs.

Maria Alvarez knows she doesn't have to go far to find drugs.

"I don't see it a lot, but I hear about it," said Alvarez, a Sunnyside High School student. "Like, we'll be in the classroom, and kids will be talking about, 'Oh, I'm going to go get high after school,' or stuff like that."

It's a stubborn problem the school districts struggle to bring under control. KIMA pulled the numbers to see the latest trends.

Yakima has basically held steady, seeing only a slight drop in kids getting caught with drugs on campus. Suspensions and expulsions went from 254 for the 2011 school year to 248 in 2012 and 243 last year. Administrators credit security, school resource officers and teachers with keeping it from getting worse. All security is trained on drug awareness. There's also an emphasis on gaining student trust.

Results varied across Yakima County. West Valley saw the biggest drop with 17 fewer incidents.
Sunnyside saw more students caught with drugs, with 67 in the 2012 school year compared to 81 last year.

Administrators there say increased enforcement is catching more kids and that more students could be experimenting with marijuana after the passage of I-502. Sunnyside started a new substance abuse prevention class this year for seventh- and eighth-graders hoping to keep them off drugs later.

"It's looking at all these kinds of things and how can we do the best we can for our youth to make sure that they're successful and to meet their needs," said Cathy Kelley, Yakima School District's Support Services Coordinator.

Eddie Zamora likes to hear that schools are doing something, but he also takes it upon himself to keep his kids away from drugs.

"I always told them that, you know, to do what's right, to know what's wrong when it comes to things and to always stop and think what you're going to be doing," said Zamora, a local father.

You can find more details about all the school districts in Yakima County when it comes to drug incidents on campus here.