Sheriff's Office Investigating If Teacher's Drink Was Laced At School - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/27/07-Panola County

Sheriff's Office Investigating If Teacher's Drink Was Laced At School

An East Texas teacher passes out after school and is rushed to the hospital, all because of what he thinks somebody slipped in his drink.   And now investigators are looking into the possibility a student may have done it. It happened in the small Panola County town of Beckville, just northwest of Carthage.

Last Thursday ended like any other day at Beckville Middle School, but the next morning, the school got a call from veteran math teacher Ray Chitwood saying he was very sick. 

"The principal said, 'do you need a substitute?' and he said yes, 'I do, I've actually been quite ill, and I was sick to the point where my wife had to take me to the hospital,'" says Superintendent Devin Tate.

He told the principal he suspected someone had slipped something in his drink the day before.  

"There's a possibility it could have been done here at the school and that's very serious accusation, one that we don't take lightly," says Tate.

That's why the administration is going on day five of an investigation, interviewing every student on the middle school campus and working closely with Panola County authorities.

The Sheriff's Department collected evidence including the teacher's thermos that contained a dark drink where you can actually see little pieces of a green leafy substance floating inside it.

"It looks like marijuana residue that's sprinkled in the drink, it's what we think it was, and possibly something else, like possibly a pill or something that was put there," says Sheriff Jack Ellett.

It's a serious situation that has many parents worried, especially if a student did it.

"We send our kids to school for an education and uh you know we're thinking that they're taking care of while they're there I guess things can happen that we have no control over," says Ann Harris, a parent.

"Right now to me, I think we have a big problem in our school of drugs and alcohol," says parent Robert Fite.

But school administrators and Panola County authorities can't say for certain it happened at the school just yet. They're also looking at two places the teacher stopped before heading home the day he got sick.

The teacher's thermos is being sent to a lab for testing and results are expected in a few weeks.

Tracy Watler/Reporting:

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