Local News

Investigators Probe How Fifth-Graders Got Marijuana

Posted May 10, 2007 6:24 p.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2007 7:54 a.m. EDT

— How and why did students at a Sanford elementary school get marijuana?

That's the question authorities are trying to figure out after a school resource officer, last week, filed juvenile petitions against four fifth-grade students for possessing marijuana. One was also charged with intent to sell and deliver.

"It is a rarity in Lee County (to see children this young charged with drug possession)," Lee County schools Superintendent Dr. James McCormick said. "We may have had other incidents. We're talking about some stems and seeds -- something that obviously came from someone beyond the school district."

Classmates reported the students last week, one week after students took part in a drug-education program. The school took disciplinary action but cannot disclose what it was.

"It's a credit to the kids that they came forward and were brave enough to tell that their classmates had something illegal," school resource officer Darla Cole said.

It's not uncommon that drugs have turned up among young children. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 113 incidents of drugs in elementary and middle schools were reported for the 2005-2006 school year. Thirty-six incidents were reported in pre-kindergarten through fifth grades.

"The problem starts at home ," said parent K. J. Fox. "I just wonder how (the students) could get to school without a parent checking them before they got all the way to school."

Officials said the amount of marijuana was small -- a misdemeanor -- and that a juvenile counselor will review the cases to see if the students should go to court or get diverted. Cole said that would mean something like counseling, community service or restitution.