Parents Pack Local ISD’s Fentanyl Meeting

Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District | Image by NBC DFW

CARROLLTON — Hundreds filled the seats Thursday evening inside a Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District (CFBISD) building in the wake of a string of fentanyl overdoses which included students of R.L. Turner High School.

The meeting, attended by The Dallas Express, included representatives from the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, counselors, Mayor Steve Babick, members of the Carrollton Fire Department, the Carrollton Police Department, the Dallas Police Department, and the parents of children who have died from fentanyl overdoses.

The recent overdoses of three CFBISD students, previously reported by The Dallas Express, presumably prompted the meeting on Thursday, where some parents expressed disappointment with the district’s communication.

“I feel there’s been several missed opportunities to address this topic,” said Christina Barbee to the group, saying there has been a “significant lack of communication from the district.”

School Resource Officer Nik Stefanovic told parents and those assembled that he was a former teacher, so the incidents felt “very close” to him.

“I love your kiddos. I love them dearly. This is a nationwide problem. But today, it’s our problem. That’s important,” said Stefanovic, who explained that he and others were doing everything they can.

One of those things, he said, was stocking Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, in the school district, which helps those who have overdosed on opiates to begin breathing again. He also said parents should speak with their kids about opioids, particularly fentanyl.

“I love them to death, but sometimes we have to have tough conversations,” he said.

Presenters from Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD showed videos highlighting how Narcan is used, including one showing it being applied in the field by frontline workers.

They also told the community what they were teaching students about fentanyl, including the difference between pharmaceutical fentanyl, prescribed in small doses, and counterfeit fentanyl, which is often mixed into other illicit drugs and sold on the street.

Carrollton Police Chief Roberto Arredondo told the crowd that partnering with federal and local agencies would be the key to success in combating fentanyl.

“This is why we do this job. It’s a hard job. It’s a satisfying job. But we can’t do it alone,” Arredondo said. “So, I wanted to just stand up every day until each one of you have [sic] my word that you have my commitment.”

The Dallas Express asked Arredondo if, besides Narcan, there were any other harm reduction methods that police plan on implementing to stem the crisis.

“We are pursuing anything and everything we can,” he said. “I’m not prepared to answer that question today, but I will tell you we’re leaving no stone unturned.”

Members of the Carrollton Fire Department told The Dallas Express that they use Narcan all the time but could not say for certain how often, just that it had been very helpful.

Christina Peña, accompanied by her husband Daniel Alvardo, spoke about the death of her daughter Angelina Marie-Rogers, who was 21 when she fatally overdosed on fentanyl. They said they were here to help other parents juggling the problem of fentanyl abuse.

“I felt satisfied with the meeting,” Christina Peña told The Dallas Express as she held a poster with her daughter’s image. “We got some answers, and I liked what they had to say.”

Fentanyl, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It is often added to heroin to increase potency or “disguised as highly potent heroin.”

Thousands of people died from fentanyl overdoses in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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