A powdery substance found in a Revere High School classroom contained fentanyl, prompting a police investigation and action by district administration.
The superintendent says Revere police have sent the powdery substance to the state lab for testing to confirm it’s fentanyl and see what else the baggie might contain. Police will conduct sweeps of the building in the coming weeks to look out for the presence of drugs, officials said, reminding that all drugs are illegal in school and on school grounds.
Parents NBC10 Boston spoke with were obviously concerned.
“This is a little disturbing, but I’m not surprised. I mean, it’s a big thing around here,” said Victoria, a parent of a ninth grader at Revere High School who did not want her last name used.
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
“I was surprised that the school, that it’s going on here in the first place," fellow parent Jeff Stevens said.
Parents of Revere High School students reacted Friday after receiving a letter from the principal earlier this week, alerting them that “a small baggie of an unknown substance was discovered on the floor of a classroom in the school.”
Administrators said they “notified the School Resource Officer, who tested the substance and found that it contained fentanyl.”
“There is no indication that any student consumed this substance," Revere High School Principal Christopher Bowen said.
“I’m a nurse, it’s dangerous, so I know how dangerous it is, and I know somebody could have potentially died just coming into contact with it," Stevens said.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is not involved in the investigation at this point, however, Jon DeLena, deputy special agent in charge at DEA New England, said there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of illicit fentanyl.
"Last year, 107,622 Americans died from a drug overdose -- 66% of those come from the synthetic opioids like fentanyl," he said. "I've been with DEA now for 27 years, I've never seen an increase like we're experiencing here in New England and throughout the entire country with this drug. It's so dangerous, two milligrams is all it takes to kill somebody. That's enough to fit on the tip of the pencil."
The Revere Teachers Association called the incident a “wakeup call,” saying in a statement, “The RTA is demanding that this troubling discovery of a deadly drug in our high school serve as the moment to begin a thorough, ongoing and transparent process to address school safety.”
“I think they should do some explanation and explain to the kids and show what was so bad about it, so they won't be like not knowing what to expect,” said Daniella Alves, an 11th grade parent.
"I think they need to educate. That’s definitely key because some of these kids think everything’s a joke," Stevens added.
"What we're seeing more than ever now is fentanyl is, like, the ultimate shapeshifter," DeLena said. "These drug traffickers are putting it in every drug imaginable. So, you know, we have fake pills throughout all of New England, pills designed to look like a hydrocodone, a Percocet or an Adderall, but actually contain nothing but the deadly drug fentanyl. We see people that think they're purchasing cocaine or methamphetamine only to find that somebody has put fentanyl in the supply chain."
Revere Superintendent Dianne Kelly said the district is already working on planning educational programs on drug use for students, parents, and the community. In a joint statement released Friday, she along with Mayor Brian Arrigo, Revere Police Chief David Callahan and Chief of Health and Human Services Lauren Buck said there will be a webinar on Monday, Dec. 19 to discuss the opioid crisis and the dangers of fentanyl.
"Finally, we want to acknowledge that too many of us have felt the impact of the opioid crisis. We
must all work together to eliminate this horrible problem. If you or your child need assistance or
know of someone who needs assistance, please reach out to the Revere SUDHI Office at 781-629-4158," the statement reads.