After a back-to-school month in which at least seven Hollywood area high school kids overdosed on fentanyl dealt as Percocet, including 15-year-old Bernstein High School student Melanie Ramos, who died from the poison, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced on Thursday that the anti-overdose drug Narcan will be available at all K-12 campuses by mid-October.
Doses of Narcan, or naloxone, will also be supplied to all LAUSD School Police officers, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said at a Thursday press conference. As EdSource reports, the doses will be provided at no cost by the county Department of Public Health beginning with middle and high schools.
“We are experiencing a devastating epidemic,” Carvalho said. “While we talk about fentanyl or the many variations of fentanyl, there is an abundance of drugs that students are having ready access to. But there are solutions.”
LAUSD, the nation’s second-largest school district behind NYC, has also formed a task force to investigate the data and pinpoint which areas of the district have been disproportionately affected, according to EdSource. Carvalho said the district now has an idea of what those areas are but will wait to connect with the communities first before officially announcing the patterns—though the batch of pills linked to the death of Melanie Ramos and the overdoses of her friend and others were initially all thought to have been sold in or around nearby Lexington Park.
LAUSD says it will continue working with the Los Angeles School Police and the LAPD to address safety issues, as well as launching peer counseling for students and courses on drug use and impact through its Family Academy beginning next week.
Two teenage boys were arrested, one on suspicion of manslaughter, in connection to the pills that allegedly caused several of the overdoses, including the one that killed Melanie Ramos.
“These are people who have been poisoned,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the time of Ramos’ death. “These are murders.”
Garcetti, however, emphasized that the kids who allegedly sold the drugs to their peers are hardly the root of the problem. “We are not just interested in the final distributors of the pills that peddled this death,” he said. “We want to go up that chain.”
When the 15-year-old boy accused of selling that pills that killed Ramos was brought into Eastlake Juvenile Court in handcuffs on Monday, ABC7 reports, Ramos’ aunt, Gladys Manriques, was there.
“I didn’t feel angry,” she told the station. “I felt sad. He’s a minor, he’s young. In this case, I think both sides lose.”