A 9-year-old Nathan Hale Elementary School student took suspected crack cocaine to the Toledo school and also gave a bag of it to another student, triggering investigations by school, police, and children services officials.
The third grader and his three siblings, age 4 to 11, have been placed in the custody of an aunt because of the discovery at the school Tuesday and because of indications of possible physical abuse of at least three of the children, officials said yesterday.
The situation began shortly after noon Tuesday when a teacher at the school at 1800 Upton Ave. overheard conversations among students about someone having crack cocaine. The teacher talked with the students, who identified the 9-year-old, said Diane Irving, assistant superintendent of elementary education for Toledo Public Schools.
Mrs. Irving said the teacher took the boy to the office and a bag of suspected crack cocaine was found in his sock. School officials identified another student who had been given a second bag of the suspected drug. School security, city police, and Lucas County Children Services were notified, she said.
Within hours after the incident at the school, police had obtained a warrant and searched the children's house at 3234 North Detroit Ave. Police found and seized 14 bags of suspected crack cocaine worth $30,000, a scale believed to have been used in connection with drug trafficking, a loaded 9mm handgun, and nearly $2,000 in a safe that belonged to their mother's boyfriend, said Sgt. Richard Murphy, a police spokesman.
Arrest warrants have been issued for the boyfriend, 22-year-old Samuel Stuart, who also had an address at 916 Indiana Ave. He was charged with trafficking in drugs and drug abuse and possession of crack cocaine. He was not in custody last night.
The 9-year-old has not been criminally charged by police. Mrs. Irving said the 9-year-old was charged under the school district's disciplinary code with distributing, selling, [or] offering to sell illegal drugs or alcohol. An expulsion hearing is scheduled for April 24.
The boy who was given a bag of the suspected drugs was not charged under the district's discipline code, she said.
Though this is not the first time an elementary school student in Toledo Public Schools has been found to have drugs on school grounds, police say it is a very rare situation.
"The parents have to be responsible, especially at this age. What does a 9-year-old know about selling drugs?" Sergeant Murphy said. "Having cocaine or illegal drugs in the house is like handing a kid a loaded gun."
The sergeant said police are going to work with prosecutors and the county Children Services office to "make sure" the children are not allowed to return to the residence. No one answered the door at the North Detroit Avenue house yesterday for a Blade reporter seeking comment.
Dean Sparks, executive director of children services, said his agency has had prior contact with the family but declined further comment.
Mr. Sparks said his agency will be meeting with the family to discuss a long-term safety plan for the children and will work this week with Lucas County Juvenile Court on custody of the children.
Mrs. Irving said letters were sent home to parents yesterday and counselors are available. She said this is an uncommon occurrence at the elementary level, calling the one-day incident very unusual.
"It's unfortunate that when things happen in the home situation, it falls into the schools," she said. "But we have to protect the children. Our focus is the other children in the building."
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