CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is in the process of bringing Narcan to all schools, and according to documents, the process has been ongoing for months.
Queen City News obtained a memo dated Aug. 9 that shows district leaders informed all principals Narcan would be placed in every school. As of November, the life-saving medication had still not been placed in schools.
A CMS spokesperson said it’s because the decision must go before the Board of Education. The school board’s Policy Committee announced it will hold a virtual committee meeting on Nov. 21 regarding changes to its first aid and emergency care policy.
The meeting comes as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police recently released an anti-fentanyl campaign targeting young people.
“It’s kind of shocking to have that resource available and to be sitting on it,” said Alex Crossley with Queen City Harm Reduction. “It saves lives every day, whether it be here at the site, gas stations, restaurants. It changes lives. It saves lives.”
Laird Ramirez was just 17-years-old when he took in a fatal dose of fentanyl at a friend’s house on July 1. He was a student at Hough High School.
“I raced over to his friend’s house screaming the entire way in the car, and I got there and raced to the house and raced upstairs, and that’s when the paramedics and cops stopped me,” said Ramirez’ mother Gwyneth Brown. “I was just a zombie after that.”
Since her son’s death, Brown said she’s been disheartened to learn just how prevalent drug use is amongst students.
“I can walk in there today and know where to buy drugs. As a mom,” she said.
Queen City News asked a CMS spokesperson whether the district believes they have an opioid issue. They responded that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police data shows the number of overdose deaths are highest in those over the age of 20, not teenagers.
But an open-record request revealed CMS had nearly 720 reports of students having controlled substances in violation of the law during the 2022-23 school year. That accounts for more than half of the district’s yearly crime reports.
There were 624 instances reported during the prior school year.
“CMS could be the hero,” said Brown. “That’s the thing that kills me. That’s the thing that’s killing our kids. There will be more deaths.”
Earlier this school year, a 15-year-old student at Rock Hill (S.C.) High School overdosed in a classroom. Police reports show a school resource officer was able to revive him using two doses of Narcan.
On Oct. 30, the White House sent a letter to schools warning about how easy it is for teenagers to get their hands on opioids and recommending that every school have Narcan on hand.