Following the arrest of a couple charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD held a meeting for parents to address fentanyl poisoning.
The couple is believed to be allegedly linked to a string of overdoses that occurred between September 2022 and February 2023, when nine students from R.L. Turner High School and Dewitt Perry and Dan F. Long Middle Schools, ages ranging from 13 to 17, suffered from overdoses due to fentanyl-laced oxycontin pills.
The synthetic opioid is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Due to its potency, the drug is highly addictive and like other synthetic opioids, it’s one of the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths.
In response to concerned parents, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD gave a presentation on Thursday, Feb. 9 that included the testimonies of families of fentanyl overdose victims as well as comments by the resource officer at R.L. Turner High School and Carrollton Police Chief Robert Arrendondo.
“We do not have enough police officers for every street corner, we do have citizens on just about every street corner so we cannot be successful without you," said Arredondo, according to CBSNEWS.
Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD released an official statement on Monday after news broke of the deaths of the three teens, saying that the district made previous efforts in educating the community on the dangers of fentanyl, citing emails sent to parents and presentations given on campus in October and November 2022 respectively. However, Carmin Williams, the parent of a 12-year-old student addicted to the opioid, told NBCDFW she warned the district her child was being sold the fentanyl-laced pills at the district campuses all the way back in May 2022, but she considered her concerns were not taken seriously and left only with a list of treatment centers given to her by a school counselor.
“I reached out,” said Williams. “I begged and cried for help. But I didn't get it. And now all of a sudden, everybody is so concerned. When I started talking about this in May and June of last year, I was going to the school.”
While a recent data analysis by the nonprofit Families Against Fentanyl shows that children under 14 are the fastest-growing age group dying of fentanyl overdoses and parents at the meeting were surprised to find out how prevalent the presence of fentanyl is in the district, the scientific and healthcare community warned about this issue almost two decades ago. A study conducted in 2005, concluded found that there was evidence of an opioid epidemic among teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17.
During the meeting, Stefanovic, the resource officer at R.L. Turner High School said he currently carries NARCAN on him in an effort to avoid more tragedies, but given that the overdoses happened off-campus, they urged parents to start having conversations with their children. "Open that phone and do everything in your power to have those conversations with your kids," he said.