Drug Scare Prompts School To Ban Candy

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Sour Powder. Pixy Stix. Crazy Dips.

These and other powdery candies are pure sugar, and after an incident on a school bus Monday, they're also banned from the Rim Country Middle School campus.

A senior student offered two sixth-graders a powder-like candy during the ride home Monday, school officials said. Another senior allegedly implied that the candy was laced with LSD.

Later that evening worried about what she had heard on the bus one of the sixth-graders told her mother what she had heard about the drugs.

The mother examined her child, middle school principal Frank Larby said, and noticed that her eyes were fully dilated, and the girl was acting unusual. The mother took her daughter to the hospital, where she was checked out and released.

School officials think the incident was caught on tape. The bus was one of three in the district's fleet equipped with on-board video cameras.

"We have three cameras on our buses, and initially we put them on the buses that go to the outlying areas," said Joe Martin, director of support operations for the Payson School District. Martin said the video cameras record sound, image and the speed at which the bus is traveling. Martin said that information was turned over to the Gila County Sheriff's Department for investigation.

Tuesday, Larby fired off a letter to middle school parents, informing them about the incident.

"Plainly," Larby wrote in the letter, "the sixth-grade students were offered a candy-like substance that was laced with some other drug. At this time, the police have not told us what that drug might be."

Thursday morning, however, police said there were no drugs on the bus, and the incident seemed to be just another case of bad judgment on the part of an older student.

"The child who supposedly got sick turned up a negative tox screen for drugs," Gila County Sheriff's Det. Brian Havey said.

While this incident turned out to be benign much like an incident in March when a student erroneously reported a bomb scare on a bus Larby said he'd rather err on the side of caution.

"We'll do a follow up letter to the parents, letting them know that there were no drugs involved," Larby said. "But, we'd still like to highlight the importance of parents keeping an eye on what their kids have, what they accept from others and what they're up to."

Larby's initial reaction to the incident was to ban "any packaged or non-packaged powdered candy" from the middle school campus. Even though there were no signs of drugs involved in Monday's incident, he said Thursday that he's standing by his decision.

"We've only got three weeks left in the school year," he said. "I would rather put out an alert to the parents and be wrong than to have a seemingly innocent thing turn bad."

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