11.30.22 Superintendent Update



I'm writing you today out of love and concern with a long email, but I'm begging you to read every word of this. I haven't sent you a long email of such importance in a couple of years, but this one is keeping me awake at night. 


First, let me say we do not have a drug problem in Baldwin County Public Schools and based on what I hear from around the country, I believe we are very blessed. We have had very, very few drug infractions this year, but my administrators are concerned about what we are hearing around the state and even in our own hallways. This is what you might say is a wakeup call for all of us. 


While I don't believe we have a drug problem, I do believe we have a vaping problem amongst the youth in our communities. This is not something exclusive to Baldwin County schools and it is not something exclusive to high schoolers. It is happening all over the country, all over the state and even among our younger children. It is a serious enough problem that I felt the need to write you and meet with the media to raise awareness about what is happening. 


I've been doing this long enough to remember as a young teacher and as a principal walking around enforcing no smoking laws when cigarettes were the challenge. I wish my concern was just about vaping, but it is much greater and more serious than that.


Over the last few months, educators across the country and even here in Baldwin County, have seen a significant increase of what is in these vape packets children are inhaling today. Just as these vapes can be injected with flavors such as blueberry or mint, THC is also frequently being injected into vapes. Some of the children using these devices are aware of it and yet some of them are not. I'm sure you can imagine the kid who offers something to someone else to try, with that person unsuspectingly inhaling THC and getting high.


Unfortunately, that is also not the worst of what is happening. These vape kits are also being injected with a drug called fentanyl. If you have not heard of this drug, I strongly encourage you to do your research on it. It is a synthetic opioid that in very, very small amounts, can do more than any previous drug on our streets. An amount of fentanyl no larger than a baby aspirin can kill a high school student. 


These are not the musings of over worried administrators. This is happening everywhere, and it recently happened in Alabama. An unsuspecting child, wanting to try out a device they found or one a sibling has in their backpack or one a friend offers them at school, could easily ingest enough THC or worse, fentanyl, and die of an overdose. Sheriff Mack's office has reported fentanyl has been the cause of the majority of overdoses in Baldwin County this year.


I'm not an expert, but what I understand is the drugs injected into these vape kits don't mix perfectly. So, the first person who inhales may get a little, the second person who inhales may get none and the third or fourth person who inhales may get the vast majority of what was injected. This inequitable distribution of the chemical is what appears to be causing overdoses.


Earlier this year, we began provisioning Narcan kits and training staff in all our schools. This is something new for me as a public educator of more than 40 years. Being prepared to treat a student who might be dying on the floor of an overdose is something I cannot tell you I was prepared for in my younger years. What's worse is we are now deploying these units to our elementary schools. That may seem ridiculous to some, and I would have agreed, but then I was reminded about the curiosity of young children. The concern and unfortunately, the real-life example, is the youngest child who finds something their parent or sibling left out and wants to try because they think it's cool and worse, might share it with others. 


It is against state law for anyone under 21 years of age to be in possession of or to be using a vape device regardless of what is inside it. Several municipalities in Baldwin County have been issuing tickets for students on campus and we are going to support those continued actions. We also have test kits on our campuses that will help determine what is in the vape device. Any student who is found in possession of a vape device will have it tested and referred to law enforcement, if necessary.


The purpose of my email is not to threaten your children with a $25 municipal citation. It would be the greatest Christmas gift if we never had to write one of these on our campuses. I don't want a single child to be hurt. I lost my youngest child to a tragic traffic accident when he was a high schooler. The pain I suffered that day continues in me even as I write this email. I do not want any parent to ever have to suffer that tragedy. 


I am writing to you out of genuine concern, not because we have a problem in Baldwin County schools, but because I don't want us to have a problem. I don't want any of you to experience what I have experienced myself. I believe we can keep our track record regarding overdoses, but we can only do it with your help. 


As we come upon the holiday season, so many of our kids are going to be out or at home with less supervision. It's a time for fun, hanging out with friends and enjoying the parties, and it should be but I'm begging you to please keep your eyes open. Talk to your kids about vaping, drinking and drugs. Ask them to educate YOU on what their friends are doing. Share with them the concerns about fentanyl and what you're hearing.


I know how uncool we can be as parents but sometimes we don't need to be cool. Sometimes we need to love, be concerned and even be hard when it comes to protecting our children. Even though our kids push back against authority, they want to be loved. Show them that love through your concern.


If you have any questions about fentanyl or what you can do, please feel free to check out some of the following resources. If you have additional questions, you're always welcome to reach out to any of our school counselors or administrators who are properly trained to get you in touch with the right people in a very confidential and appropriate way.


I hope everyone has a very safe and exciting holiday season. Thank you so very, very much for trusting us with your children.


Eddie Tyler,


#BaldwinProud #CommunityStrong