Students face expulsion in pill trade

Seven Superior High School students face possible expulsion for using and trading prescription drugs at the school, including one 15-year-old who ended up in the emergency room for a drug overdose.

Seven Superior High School students face possible expulsion for using and trading prescription drugs at the school, including one 15-year-old who ended up in the emergency room for a drug overdose.

Authorities were alerted to the pill swapping on May 25 when the mother of the girl who overdosed called the school looking for more information on what her daughter may have taken. She told Superior Police Liaison Officer Tom Johnson that her daughter "was in-and-out of it and wasn't able to give a lot of information on what she'd ingested," Johnson wrote in a Superior Police report.

Students said the hospitalized girl had been trading her prescription Adderall pills for an 18-year-old student's Paxil pills for the past two months. Adderall is a stimulant used to treat ADD, ADHD and narcolepsy. Paxil is an antidepressant. The trades took place at the high school, the report said.

On May 25, students said, the 15-year-old also brought some of her mother's Ambien pills to school. The sedative, prescribed as a sleep aid, can also have a hypnotic effect, according to the Food and Drug Administration. One student interviewed said the girl who passed them out called them "happy pills."

According to the report, the girl gave Ambien pills to four classmates -- two 15-year-old girls and two 16-year-old boys. She took about 5½ of the Ambien pills that day. One student said the hospitalized girl also had taken Oxycodone, a narcotic, but the girl denied it.


The girl who supplied pills to other students faces possible charges from the Douglas County District Attorney's office. Charges also are being considered for the 18-year-old girl who was swapping pills. Students said she also provided Paxil to another girl at the high school.

All students involved in the incident and another 16-year-old girl who was found with Paxil in her purse, face possible expulsion. The 18-year-old student is on track to graduate unless the School Board chooses to expel her.

As of May 21, 34 students had been expelled from the Superior School District this school year. Of those, 23 were drug -- or alcohol -- related.

"We're finding kids with drugs in different ways than before," Superintendent Jay Mitchell said. "Kids are turning them in. Parents are turning them in."

Hopefully, he said, that shows students don't want to be in that environment. But the board is waiting to see what the future will bring, Superior School Board President William Rehnstrand said.

"It is, to me, very alarming," Rehnstrand said, "especially the prescription pill or drug aspect, because it's so unreasonable for people to be taking prescription drugs, which the doctor hasn't assigned them."

He said prescription drugs are easy to get, too. "They can just go to the medicine cabinet at home, their aunt's or uncle's house ... they can take three or four pills from a bottle."

More than 70 percent of seniors surveyed each year think drugs are a problem at the high school, Mitchell said.


As a proactive step, the School Board established random drug testing and a pledgemakers program this year to raise awareness of drug and alcohol abuse.

"I think it's important to realize that just because we live in a nice, pleasant small town doesn't mean we are immune to the problems festering all over the nation," Rehnstrand said.

And it will take the help of parents, neighbors and community members to deal with the drug problem.

The school warns students about the dangers of drug use, Mitchell said. But children are in school for only five or six hours a day, he said.

School district policy prohibits students from carrying prescription drugs at school, even if it is their own prescription. The medications must be registered and secured with the school nurse's office.

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