Eighth graders at Franklin Community Middle School arrested in drug charges

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Two eighth graders at Franklin Community Middle School face drug charges, after police say they dealt prescription drugs to several of their classmates. Franklin Police say another eighth grader faces a drug possession charge and four others likely ingested the drug at school.

To parents in Franklin, the news was stunning. Kids as young as 13, arrested for allegedly dealing prescription drugs at school.

"It was shocking," said parent Holly Johnston. "Then I had to have the talk with my son about drugs and things like that and that's just not something I thought I would have to have with an eighth grader."

But police hope a lot of parents have that conversation after what happened at Franklin Community Middle School last month.

The investigation started when a teacher noticed a student was sluggish and slurring his words in class. The student was sent to the principal's office and a Franklin police officer, who acts as a resource officer at the school, was called in to interview the student.

"He was under the influence of a prescription drug that had been sold by another student," said Franklin Police Chief Tim O'Sullivan. "One of the students had apparently brought prescription drugs from home, gave some to another student to sell or hand out and another student was holding them."

Police say the eighth grader had about 20 Xanax pills he'd stolen from his own home. Seven students total were involved in the incident. Two now face drug dealing charges and another faces a possession charge.

But all students will face major consequences at school, too, including possible suspension or expulsion.

"We need to take this seriously. We need kids and parents all to understand there's a role and place for school to make sure it's a safe learning environment," said Franklin Community Schools Superintendent David Clendening.

"I think that is a strong message for all the other kids here because if somebody was thinking about it, maybe they'll think twice now," Johnston said. "Hopefully this will help and people will think about it more and parents will be aware of it more."

School leaders say this is the first time a Franklin middle schooler has tried to sell prescription drugs at school. But they know it's part of a troubling trend - prescription drug use - that's targeting kids at any age.

Police and school leaders say there's an important message families should take away from this case:

  • Lock up your medications.
  • Get rid of any old prescriptions.
  • Keep a count of your pills at home.
  • Also, have a conversation with your kids about the danger of prescription pills, even if they're not yet in high school.

Clendening says the middle school is planning to hold a drug awareness program for parents before summer begins. It's something they've held in the past, but feel it's important to revisit because of the student arrests.