April 23, 2009
Police: Warren Township boys, 10 and 11, dealt pot at school
Two Warren Township fifth-graders -- ages 10 and 11 -- have been arrested after police say they were caught conducting a marijuana deal at school.
Details were sketchy, but Warren Township spokesman Dennis Jarrett said a student told school officials he saw a classmate at Brookview Elementary sell a "marijuana-like substance" to another student Tuesday morning.
"We are getting to a state of emergency," said the Rev. Byron Alston, director of Save the Youth, an Eastside social services program. "When you have elementary students selling dope in the school, we've got a serious problem."
According to a police report, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department field technician later confirmed the substance was 1.88 grams of marijuana -- enough for one or two joints.
The boys were arrested on juvenile charges of dealing and possessing marijuana and taken to the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center. Both were suspended, pending an investigation.
Their ages raised concern.
"It's kind of shocking that it would happen at an elementary school, especially this one," said parent Doug Stephenson, 41, Indianapolis. "Brookview has always been a well-disciplined, well-managed school, with strict policies on dress and behavior. This is the first time we've ever heard of a problem like this."
Indiana University studies on drug, alcohol and tobacco use start with Grade 6. Most state and national studies on youth drug use do not include kids younger than 12.
In 2008, IU's Indiana Prevention Resource Center found that overall drug use among the state's students had dropped, and that the average age for first trying marijuana was 13.8 years.
Randy Miller, director of Drug-Free Marion County, said it is rare for children this young to be involved in selling marijuana.
"It certainly brings into question what they've been exposed to along the way," Miller said. "You're certainly not going to find 10- and 11-year-olds saying this is a way to make money."
Alston wondered where the boys got the drug. Police and school officials did not answer that question Wednesday.
"They had to get it from somebody they know, and somebody had to teach them how to do it," Alston said.
Messages left at the two students' homes were not returned Wednesday evening.
Class time at Brookview, 1550 Cumberland Road, wasn't affected, Jarrett said, but Principal Timothy Hanson spoke to students afterward.
"The principal took the opportunity to talk to the other students about the importance of making good choices, and that bad decisions wouldn't be tolerated at Brookview Elementary," Jarrett said. "It's a shame that it happened, but it does show that one kid did the right thing. It shows (anti-drug) education is working."
Brookview, which serves students in Grades K-5, has 473 students enrolled this year, according the state Department of Education.
Hanson and Warren Township Schools Superintendent Peggy Hinckley didn't return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.
Stephenson, the Brookview parent, applauded school officials for notifying police right away. But he said a message left on his answering machine by the school was exceedingly vague and didn't say why police were at the school.
Rob Garl, treasurer of Brookview's parent-teacher association, said officials gave general information.
"We were simply told that it was inappropriate for school and inappropriate for society or something to that effect," he said.
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