FULTON COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A day after officials announced treats taken to a Fulton County middle school on Valentine’s Day were tainted with THC, Fulton County Schools said they are taking disciplinary actions against five students. School officials said action against more students may be likely.
It happened at Sandtown Middle School on Feb. 14. Just after noon, 28 students were taken to the three area Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospitals after complaining about various symptoms.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigations said they tested 46 items police seized following the illnesses. The GBI said one item that “had the appearance of cereal” contained THC. No other substances were detected, according to investigators.
The students will be charged under the Fulton County Schools Student Code of Conduct for the “consumption, possession and/or the distribution of illegal substances.”
“Tier IV carries the highest level of consequences for acts of misconduct considered the most serious,” Cliff Jones, chief academic officer for Fulton County Schools said in a statement sent to FOX 5 News. “These acts may be grounds for expulsion and automatically result in a mandatory 10-day suspension with consideration for a recommendation for long-term suspension, expulsion and/or assignment to an alternative education program.”
The names of those involved and their grades, ages, and gender will not be released, officials said, due to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Officials said criminal charges for those students have not yet been ruled out and additional students may also face disciplinary charges as the investigation progresses.
Investigators said that even though 28 students were sent to the hospital, some of those may have been a psychosomatic illness, which is caused by stress and anxiety of a situation leading to a physical manifestation of symptoms. Jones said of the 28 students, only four were kept overnight for observation.
“It is possible that not all students who were transported ingested illegal substances,” Jones wrote in a statement. “But when any child reports feeling ill, our clinic staff evaluates them and trusts the opinions of other medical personnel, such EMS responders, to determine whether to transport a student to the hospital for further assessment.”
The Fulton County Schools Police Department is in charge of the criminal investigation.
The district released a heavily-redacted police incident report on Tuesday which describes how events unfolded as well as interviews with at least 12 students. The report states that homemade Rice Krispy treats and heart-shaped lollipops were taken as evidence following the illnesses.
The report states that students started to report feeling ill around noon. A student was sent to the nurse’s office complaining of an upset stomach and headache. Police said they arrived to find the student disoriented, hallucinating with water red eyes and was “frantically crying off and on.” The officer said some students exhibited signs of drug intoxication.
Twelve students were interviewed by school police giving a litany of food and treats they had eaten that day. That’s how investigators were able to zero in on the two treats. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is testing those treats to determine if they were laced with any drugs.
The school reopened on Wednesday after a school holiday on Friday, Monday and Tuesday. The school brought in extra counselors on Wednesday “to support students with their social/emotional needs.”
According to the Thursday news release, school counselors are available for students, and parents may wish to contact medical professionals if they have additional concerns about the immediate health of their children.
FCS were also providing education and counseling to all students about the dangers of ingesting foods from unknown sources.