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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #23-44
May 25, 2023
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Pledges to Help Schools Access Prevention, Education, and Treatment to Counter the Fentanyl Crisis

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond provided testimony at a joint hearing of the California Assembly Select Committees on Fentanyl, Opioid Addiction, and Overdose Prevention; Public Safety; and Health to share updates on efforts he and the California Department of Education (CDE) have undertaken to address the ongoing opioid crisis that claimed the lives of over 6,800 Californians in 2021 alone.

“There are plenty of resources to help. We all have the ability to help save a life,” Thurmond said. “So we encourage students who need help to call 9-8-8 and obviously any one of our thousand school districts can contact the CDE directly for help on how to access Narcan, drug prevention, education, and substance abuse treatment programs. I want to assure these committees and the people of California that my team at the CDE and I are doing what we can to fight the fentanyl epidemic. We are focused not only on prevention and education but effective treatments, especially naloxone (Narcan)—a lifesaving drug when administered after an opioid overdose.”

Based on preliminary 2021 data, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported that there were more than 6,800 opioid-related overdose deaths in California; more than 5,700 of these deaths were related to fentanyl, and over 200 were overdose deaths among teens, ages fifteen to nineteen years old, in California. Most young victims ingested fentanyl accidentally while thinking they were using something less dangerous. Noting that this is the fastest-growing cause of death for young people in the state, Thurmond implored partners and state officials to join him to lean in and confront this crisis now.

In Governor Gavin Newsom’s May revision of the state budget, an additional $141.3 million is available in the Opioid Settlements Fund over four years for the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to support the Naloxone Distribution Project, which increases the total amount to $220.3 million over four years. Additionally, there is a $30 million one-time Opioid Settlements Fund in 2023–24 to support the development of a lower cost generic version of naloxone through the CalRx Naloxone Access Initiative at the Department of Health Care Access and Information, which will make naloxone more accessible statewide.

The CDE has partnered with the DHCS to launch the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, which will offer an unprecedented level of family mental health and wellness services on campuses through several different components. In addition, Thurmond is using his office to promote grant opportunities for aspiring mental health professionals, including outreach to candidates of color seeking to become mental health clinicians. Email for more information.

“Some people in some schools say we don’t need Narcan or students in our schools are not using drugs, and I tell them to take another look,” Thurmond said. “No matter what community or ZIP code you live in, this is a crisis that we must all be thinking about as adults, legislators, parents, educators, and as people in the community who care. We all have the ability to save a life.”

Videos of prior fentanyl crisis webinars that the CDE co-hosted with the CDPH are available on the CDPH YouTube page External link opens in new window or tab.. More information can be found on the CDPH Overdose Prevention Initiative web page External link opens in new window or tab. and the CDPH Fentanyl web page External link opens in new window or tab.. Instructional resources are available on the CDE Health Education Framework web page.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 30, 2023
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