Los Gatos schools partner with Montana Institute to prevent teenage drinking
Los Gatos High School notoriously has higher-than-average rates of underage drinking and drug use compared to local and state averages.
Nearly 28% of the 11th-graders surveyed at the school said they had consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days, compared to the state average of 16% and Saratoga High School’s rate of 15%.
In an effort to combat those numbers, which are pulled from a 2018-19 national report, Los Gatos school districts and the town signed a one-year partnership with the Montana Institute, an organization dedicated to the prevention of youth alcohol abuse.
The one-year partnership between Los Gatos Union School District and Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District includes workshops, surveys and training.
To kick off the partnership, Los Gatos High School is set to host a virtual workshop for students and parents on Feb. 1, 6-7:30 p.m., on preventing underage drinking.
The district said the workshop, led by senior trainer Jason Anderson of the Montana Institute, will use a proven framework to help teens make positive health choices by focusing on the norms they want to grow instead of the behaviors they want to prevent.
Anderson leads discussions about substance abuse, suicide and traffic safety with tribal, federal, state and local organizations.
“I’m hoping this will be the first partnership of many as we come together for the health and safety of our students,” Superintendent Bill W. Sanderson said in a press release. “We’re hoping that by making this workshop available virtually, families from anywhere can take advantage of this rare opportunity.”
This follows the town’s implementation of a new ordinance that holds adults accountable for underage drinking and drug use.
Adults could be fined for hosting events where alcohol or drugs are “served to, consumed by or in the presence of minors,” regardless of whether the adult is present or not. Fines start at $1,500 for the first offense and increase to $3,000 for subsequent offenses.
The town also made national headlines in 2021 when Los Gatos “party mom” Shannon O’Connor was arrested for hosting drunken parties for her teen son and his friends. She pleaded not guilty to 39 charges, including felony endangering or injuring children and misdemeanor furnishing liquor to minors, child molestation and sexual battery.
To put on the workshop and for subsequent surveys and events, Los Gatos Union School District will pay $11,200, the high school district will pay $28,000 and the town of Los Gatos will pay $16,800.
The workshop costs about $3,500 to put on, and surveys later this year will cost $11,000 and $18,000 for students and teachers, respectively.