ISD Holds Fentanyl Workshops for Parents


Fentanyl Pills | Image by Drug Enforcement Agency

CARROLLTON — After the devastating incidents at Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District (CFBISD), where multiple young people overdosed on fentanyl, the district held workshops Monday that sought to educate parents on how to address the topic with their kids.

Dozens of people attended the two workshops. One was held for English-speaking parents, and one was held for Spanish-speaking parents.

A CFBISD representative used a PowerPoint presentation to explain some of the lingo and methods children use to obtain drugs and how parents should communicate with their children about fentanyl and other dangerous narcotics.

JoAnn Gillen, chief of SEL and postsecondary readiness at CFBISD, said class presentations to students on fentanyl highlight the point that enough of the drug is coming into the United States every year to kill everyone in the country.

“They’re quiet at that point,” Gillen said. “Very quiet.”

Gillen said that parents need to be a good source of information on drugs and alcohol and help their children build skills and strategies to resist peer pressure.

“Don’t turn a blind eye because you don’t want to know,” Gillen said. “You don’t want to stick your head in the sand because you don’t want to know what they’re doing.”

So far, three people have been arrested in connection with the overdose deaths of three students in the CFBISD. The overdoses were linked to a suspected drug house near a middle school where the drugs were allegedly distributed, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.

Gillen encouraged parents to check their children’s bags.

“If you see an unusual amount of money, that’s something that’s a signal,” Gillen said, explaining that children might sell the pills as well as use them. “And remember: you’re the CEO. You have the right to ask the question.”

One of the things CFBISD has been doing is bringing in drug-sniffing dogs to the school, said Lance Hamlin, assistant superintendent. “It has been successful so far,” he said.

The Dallas Express asked Hamlin whether this violated any students’ rights, but he explained that the dogs only sniff the belongings of the students once they are laid out for inspection, not the students themselves.

Local activist Carlos Quintanilla, who only last week held a press conference calling for increased security measures at schools, spoke out during the workshop, asking Hamlin whether students would be drug tested.

Hamlin claimed that drug testing would be a violation of the students’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

Quintanilla seemed to question the district’s response to what he called a “crisis,” saying there needed to be a more comprehensive plan.

“There have to be school rallies,” he said. “You got to bring in people that can communicate with students. In-your-face type of things that hasn’t [sic] been done. We’ve talked to students. They said there hasn’t been a rally. There hasn’t been a public meeting. There hasn’t been anything.”

Gillen said she would be willing to talk to him about it one-on-one but wanted to move on to other questions from different people.

Nevertheless, Gillen did refer parents to outside agencies to have their children drug tested. She also said parents could buy their own drug tests off the shelf, but many of the ones sold in retail stores are not comprehensive and could be very expensive.

The school district plans to hold another workshop on March 22.

While the spotlight has been on CFBISD in recent months because of the fentanyl overdoses, Dallas continues to face its own epidemic of unchecked drug offenses throughout the city, with 1,566 reported drug crimes logged since just the beginning of the new year, according to the City of Dallas Open Data crime analytics dashboard.

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