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Police Call City One of Busiest Drug Centers in County : State's First School-Based Narcotics Clinics Will Open in Inglewood

January 15, 1987|MICHELE L. NORRIS | Times Staff Writer

INGLEWOOD — Four secondary schools here will house the state's first school-based drug clinics, which school officials hope will help curb the district's growing narcotics problem.

The "Say No to Drugs" clinics, co-sponsored by state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) and the Watts Health Foundation's Inglewood office, will offer health services, group and psychiatric counseling, social activities and referrals to inpatient treatment centers, Watson said this week.

The clinics are scheduled to open in September at Inglewood and Morningside high schools, officials said. Drug clinics will open at Crozier and Monroe junior highs later in the 1987-88 academic year.

Each clinic will cost about $100,000 annually. The money will come from district, county, state and federal funds and private donations, said Lois Hill Hale, Watson's chief deputy.

The district already receives about $200,000 from government agencies for drug prevention programs, which will be allocated to the clinics, Hale said. Private donations and part of the Inglewood school district's lottery fund allocation will account for another $100,000 or so, she said.

Professionals Volunteer

School and clinic officials hope that a bill that Watson plans to introduce in the Legislature this year will provide funds to cover the remaining operating costs. If not, Watts Health foundation workers, private psychiatrists and other clinic employees have volunteered their time until alternate funding sources can be found, Hale said.

"We can pull a little bit of money from here and a little bit from there to get this program started, but we need a commitment from the state if we are going to make this program a lasting success," Hale said.

Watson, who said the clinics might also help reduce teen-age crime and truancy, said she chose the Inglewood school district as the site for the pilot clinics because it is relatively small and because of its existing city programs that are aimed at combatting drugs, including police and school board task forces. If the clinic reduces drug abuse and other problems, she will try to expand the program to other school districts.

Inglewood school board members, who this week unanimously approved a measure to open the clinics, said the centers will provide needed services in a district where few students can afford to enroll in high-priced private treatment programs.

"There are a lot of children out there who would like to stop using drugs but they don't have the resources to get help," Watson said in an interview.

Busy Drug Center

In recent years Inglewood has become one of the busiest drug centers in the county, police officials say. They estimate that up to a quarter of the city's narcotics trade is centered on high school and junior high campuses.

"If we are truly serious about getting rid of drugs in this city then we had better start doing something about all these teen-age drug fiends running around," police Capt. James Butts, who until recently headed a massive drug crackdown effort, said in an interview.

The clinics, which will be run by the Watts Health Foundation, will attempt to discourage students from using drugs by providing positive role models, offering drug-free social activities and establishing new value systems.

"It is hard to reach a student who is earning $2,000 a week and supporting three families by selling drugs," said Bob Smith, a psychiatrist who will work at the clinics. "His world is Gucci and gold. To get him off the drugs we are going to have to establish a new set of values that are based on who you are, not what you own."

Though money is tight in Sacramento, officials from the state Health and Welfare Agency and the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs said lawmakers are extremely receptive to drug prevention programs aimed at school-age children.

"From what we can tell, the climate is good for drug-related legislation," said Robert Jackson, deputy director of the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.

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