Overdose drugs being disposed of, keeping Cleveland ISD police from testing them, district says

Lileana Pearson Image
Friday, September 29, 2023
Cleveland ISD police face challenge in testing drugs causing overdoses
Cleveland ISD on-campus overdoses already increased eight-fold in the first two months of the school year compared to the entire last school year.

CLEVELAND, Texas (KTRK) -- Cleveland ISD and the district's police said with a staggering number of overdoses just two months into the school year, there is no time to wait.

"It could be a matter of life or death," Matt Bieniek, who serves as the district's communications director, said.

According to Cleveland ISD police, overdoses were nearly a non-issue last year with just one being recorded. That's compared to the eight that have happened in the last two months and the 15 drug-related arrests police made on campuses.

"It has happened in our bathroom stalls. There have been cases in the classroom," Bieniek said.

Cleveland ISD police said they don't always know what pills kids are taking. They need samples to send off for testing, but oftentimes, once a child starts overdosing, any remaining pills are hidden or disposed of.

"Sometimes, kids are with their friends. They get scared when their friend starts overdosing, and they flush them down the toilet before an adult is able to get there. So, our district police isn't always able to get a sample, but when they do, we send them to a lab to be tested," Bieniek said.

School district police have visually identified multiple pills as Percocet. To know what they are for certain and if fentanyl is involved will take additional testing, though, there isn't a timeline on when results will be back.

According to school district police, once results are in, the Liberty County sheriff and district attorney's offices will determine if there will be additional charges and investigations into the source of the drugs.

ABC13 reached out to surrounding school districts to learn if they are seeing the same issues and if they have Narcan and other resources on hand. Eyewitness News has not heard back.

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SEE PREVIOUS STORY: Cleveland ISD wages fight against drugs after facing several overdoses: 'Matter of life or death'

Cleveland ISD says it's facing a district-wide issue after 15 drug-related instances, including overdoses, have been reported at school this year.