Dallas Independent School District (DISD) officials are working to stock Narcan, a life-saving drug that can temporarily reverse the side effects of a fentanyl overdose, in school campuses, aiming to respond to the rising fentanyl crisis that resulted in several teenagers’ deaths across North Texas in the past few months. District nurses, administrators, and athletic trainers would be trained on using the drug, and their authority would be modified as per the changes to the district’s medical treatment policy. DISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde says the move is necessary to ensure that trained individuals are ready to take immediate action.
At their March briefing, trustees expressed keen interest in revising the district’s medical policy based on the recent interconnected overdoses involving middle and high school students in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. Three suspects face federal charges for distributing fentanyl that led to the deaths of three CFISD students and hospitalizations of six other students. The synthetic opioid, which can be present in fake prescription pills, such as Percocet, OxyContin or Xanax, is much more potent than morphine and poses fatal risks to buyers.
According to officials, DISD campuses currently do not stock Narcan or a similar drug, and it’s not mandatory for districts to do so. However, after the board’s approval, DISD will join a handful of districts who have made similar moves.
With Narcan training for school personnel in mind, DISD is also preparing forums to talk about the dangers of fentanyl for parents and students. One such Spanish-language forum was conducted for community members at W.T. White High School recently, where parents and community members were informed and connected with resources to help tackle the crisis. Comadres Unidas de Dallas y Mas, a community organization group, assisted in assembling the meet.
Eduardo Chávez, the special agent in charge of the Dallas division for the Drug Enforcement Administration, emphasized the dangers of fentanyl in a recent conference for the Hispanic community, where he showed parents side-by-side pictures of original and fake prescription pills. The two pills were nearly identical, leaving parents in shock upon discovering which one carried the synthetic opioid. According to Chávez, one kilo of fentanyl could serve up to 500,000 pills. He mentioned in Spanish that the drug’s potency surpasses anything he had seen in his career and described how a tiny amount could be fatal.