Prescription Drug Abuse Hard To Monitor At Schools - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/29/07- East Texas

Prescription Drug Abuse Hard To Monitor At Schools

A Quitman Junior High student remained hospitalized Thursday, after taking a prescription drug at school Tuesday. KLTV 7 found out the boy's step-mom warned the school a month ago about a prescription pill problem and the school even investigated it. Jodi Cooper's step-son now has to see a pediatric cardiologist and is awaiting transport to a Dallas hospital.

"He told us he thought he was taking hydrocodone but hydrocodone is not a little round pill," said Jodi Cooper, step-mom of hospitalized Junior High student.  "They're saying it was a little blue capsule."

That capsule, whatever it was, caused a lot of damage and has brought attention to a growing problem in East Texas schools. Question is: what can we do?

"I'd have drug dogs at the school at least once a month," said Cooper.  "That and cameras. I think there should be cameras down the hall."

"We have just installed cameras in our building this last summer and actually the principles are working right now to install more cameras," said Bill Travis, Superintendent of Quitman ISD.  "Our local law enforcement also provides us the use of drug-sniffing dogs."

Still, school officials said detecting prescription drugs is a challenge.

"In cases like this, a drug-sniffing dog or camera would not have picked up on this," said Travis.

"You think maybe you can pad them down, but you can't do every kid like that," said Cooper. 

Parents also worry these prescriptions, or "skittles" as kids call them, can be passed to younger children on school busses. Yet that too is hard to monitor.

"It's a cost of 30,000 just to put cameras on a school bus," said Travis.  "Even so, if I'm taking pictures do I know if it's a skittle or prescription drug?"

When it comes down to it, both Cooper and Quitman's superintendent said raising awareness is key.

"I don't know, it's going to have to start at home," said Cooper.

"I wish we could create a bubble around schools and protect them 100 percent but we can't do it," said Travis. 

Travis said the students who took the prescription drug will be removed to a disciplinary alternative school. They still have not figured out what kind of pills were taken by the students.

Courtney Lane, Reporting  

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