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Six middle school students get ill after taking Xanax

A half-dozen Rincon Middle School students in Escondido became ill Wednesday after apparently ingesting the anxiety-disorder medication Xanax given to them by another student who has since been removed from campus, officials said.

Although all the students are doing fine now, an investigation is ongoing, said Escondido Union School District Spokeswoman Susana Villegas and a spokesman for the Escondido Police Department.

Of the six students who had taken the drugs, a mix of boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 13, one was taken by ambulance to Palomar Medical Center for treatment while two others were taken later Wednesday by their parents to either an emergency room or an urgent care facility.

Authorities didn’t know about the other three who had taken the drugs until Thursday, Escondido Police Lt. Justin Murphy said.

Those students did not seek a doctor’s help. All six students, Murphy said, are no longer showing any effects from the drugs.

“During the lunch break, six kids were either given or purchased some pills that we believe to be Xanax and then took them,” Murphy said. “During class later in the day, teachers noticed a couple kids who appeared to be sick.”

Murphy said the 13-year-old male student who supplied the drugs has been identified. Although an arrest has not yet been made, Murphy said, the student will likely be charged with providing drugs to minors on a school campus at the conclusion of the investigation.

“The student who started this was identified and removed from the campus,” Villegas confirmed, adding the school district is following specific procedures for such an occurrence. She also said the district is taking the incident “very, very seriously.”

Superintendent Luis Ibarra issued a written statement Thursday afternoon:

“The Escondido Union School District is committed to a safe and respectful environment where all students have the opportunity to learn and achieve,” he said.

“The EUSD is a drug-free zone. This means no substance abuse, possession of illegal drugs or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs at school is tolerated. The safety and educational achievement of our students will continue to be our highest priority. We are committed to utilize all appropriate disciplinary actions and procedures as specified in our policies and regulations.”

This was the first time in the K-8th grade district’s history that such an event has happened, Villegas said.

Last month, however, in the Escondido Union High School District, a similar situation took place at San Pasqual High School when five students, all boys ages 14 or 15, were treated at the hospital on Sept. 19 for the same reason.

Two 15-year-old students were later charged with selling drugs to freshman and sophomore classmates who had became nauseous, dizzy and lethargic.

According to the website, Xanax is a prescription medication used for treating anxiety and panic attacks and is not approved for use by anyone under the age of 18.; 760/529-4931; Twitter: @jharryjones

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