MADISONVILLE, Tenn. — Several Monroe County emergency vehicles were seen outside Sequoyah High School Tuesday afternoon.
Officials said hours later that the incident was due to a vape pen that a 17-year-old student had on school grounds. Two school resource officers and one nurse were exposed to the pen's contents which were laced with fentanyl, according to Chris White, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office chief deputy.
Narcan was administered to all three people, according to White. All three were "stable and doing well." The student is in custody. No other students were exposed, according to White.
Kristi Windsor, the Director of Schools, said that the student was arrested as a result of the incident. She also said they contacted a private cleaning and restoration company to clean and sanitize the area.
Part of her statement is available below:
We truly appreciate our partnerships with local law enforcement, as they were on the scene at the school within minutes. Yet we are also devastated that this situation occurred and interrupted our students’ learning while causing anxiety for all involved. At no point, however, did we feel in communicating and working with law enforcement that our students’ safety was at risk. That is why parents were allowed to pick up students at any point.
She said that in the future, the school system will try to prevent drug use in schools including random drug dog searches inside of the schools and around school grounds. She said students and parents should expect to see those dogs in the coming weeks and months.
School faculty and staff will also be trained on how to identify the signs and symptoms of drug use, and how to respond to those issues.
The incident started when a teacher called for a student to be removed after they were acting up, according to White. The vape pen fell from his person while he was taken out. The SROs picked it up and continued walking to the office.
White confirmed that it was fentanyl in a field test. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the 10th judicial district are working on the case. White said this incident was the first of this magnitude.
The TBI said that the Monroe County Sheriff's Office is the lead agency investigating the case. However, the bureau does have agents helping at the school, according to officials.
Frustrated and angered parents on social media posted they had received no formal information from the high school or Monroe County Schools about the lockdown or what had happened, but said they heard from students and staff inside the school that the lockdown was related to a vape pen filled with fentanyl.
Tenth Judicial District Attorney General Stephen Crump said crews were called in to remove fentanyl residue from the school, praising the emergency response efforts by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and the Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.
"Public safety work takes many forms. Great work by both agencies in keeping students safe," Crump said.
Parents said that drug use in the school has been a growing problem. Many reached out in November to say students were seen taking drugs in the school before the recent lockdown. However, WBIR has not been able to independently confirm these claims.
Some parents said they intend to confront the Monroe County School Board about the problem during its next meeting on December 9 at 6:30 p.m.
Loudon High School said games were canceled Tuesday night against Sequoyah High School, but did not say why those games were canceled.
This story will be updated when more information from officials is available.
The school will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, officials said. During that time, they said the school will be checked and cleared for re-entry. Teachers will receive support and training on the signs and symptoms of drug use during these days.
All other schools in Monroe County will be in session these two days.