Everett High students respond to Q13 FOX report on teen drug use in passionate letter, video

Update - April 13, 2015

On Thursday April 9th, Q13 FOX reported on the results of the Healthy Youth Survey which is a report released by a coalition of state agencies including the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Department of Health.

The survey asks students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 about safety, violence, physical activity, diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.

For the first time this year, a question was asked on the survey about heroin use. The results of the report stated that of the Snohomish County 12th graders who participated in the survey, 5.7% said they had tried heroin at least once – which is above the statewide average in the survey at 3.2%.

In our report, we interviewed a young woman who said she was a student at Everett High school. She told our reporter that drug use at Everett High was a “major problem” and that she had knowledge about students using drugs off campus and returning to the school. The Everett School District informed us this morning that the teen is a ‘former’ student at Everett High School, not a current student. We regret the error.

The principal at the school sent a letter to parents stating that “during (her) tenure, we have never had instances of hard drugs like meth, cocaine, or heroin on campus.”

We also heard from student leaders who sent us a letter saying they were “incredibly saddened” by the report and that it misrepresents their school. The student leaders also put together a YouTube video about this:

Q13 FOX News Director Erica Hill released this statement: “The intent of the story was to report the facts from the statewide Healthy Youth Survey. We never intended to portray Everett High School or its students in a negative light or to imply that students there were using drugs on campus. We regret if that is how the report portrayed Everett High School. I appreciate the articulate and passionate response we received from the student leadership at Everett High School and would welcome an opportunity to report on some of the positive work the students have done. Our community can be proud of the students who spoke up about this report and their school.”

The statewide survey results are based on anonymous responses from students and are used as a guide for state agencies to develop policies.

Students reported in their letter that the survey “may or may not have been taken seriously” by some. We asked the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction about that. OSPI’s communications manager Nathan Olson says they take steps to ensure the survey is taken seriously. He says the wording of the survey is designed to encourage honest responses by addressing the importance of the survey and its purpose. Olson says that language has been used nationally for decades and is researched to ensure the questions lead to valid data.

Additionally, Olson tells Q13 FOX that there is a clean-up feature that eliminates responses surveys that are not completely honest. He says the honesty issue is determined by specific responses to questions as well as a combination of responses on a grouping of questions. Olson says of the more than 300,000 surveys submitted, about 200,000 are used after this filtering.

You can read the results of the survey here.

Here was our original report:

Click here to read the letter from the principal.

The letter from student leaders about our report can be found here.

Original story - April 9, 2015

EVERETT -- More than one in twenty 12th-grade students in Snohomish County have tried heroin at least once, reports the Everett Herald.

According to the Herald, a survey of county students found that 5.7 percent of 12th-graders had tried heroin, far above a statewide average of 3.2 percent. Around 2.8 percent of eighth graders and 3.6 percent of 10th-graders have tried the drug at least once also, the study found.

The study of students, called the Healthy Youth Survey, asked almost 12,000 area sixth, eighth, 10th and 12-graders about their use of drugs, alcohol tobacco and electronic cigarettes. The answers to the survey were provided anonymously.

The numbers follow a recent report that found adult heroin use is becoming an epidemic in Snohomish County.

The study also found that 9.7 percent of 12th graders reported experimenting with cocaine, but the percentage of cocaine use has dropped from 11.8 percent since 2008. Use of marijuana has remained steady or decreased in all grades.

Many surmise a rise in heroin use can be attributed to new prescription requirements for narcotic pain pills.