LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) – Shortly after the school bell rang Thursday morning, Long Beach police responded to a rare call at Harper McCaughan Elementary School. That call involved four young students and marijuana.
"There were two kids who had the marijuana and the other two other children were the ones that handed it off, transferred it to them," said Long Beach Police Chief Wayne McDowell. "No, there was no money involved. During our investigation we found out one kid found it from a family member, took it to school, and handed it to other kids."
The police chief said officers found three small bags of pot totaling about half an ounce. The four students involved are ages nine, 11, and two 12-year-olds.
"I was surprised. It's something you don't ever want to see at the elementary. We never had it before and it was handled," said Long Beach Schools Superintendent Carrolyn Hamilton.
She credits several other students who heard about the drugs and immediately told their teachers.
"By 7:30, the principal had been alerted," Hamilton said. "Our children and our staff did exactly what we trained them to do. We spend a lot of time trying to educate our children: What they should do, that drugs are not good, and they have to tell somebody when they see something and they did that."
The school district is conducting its own investigation. Based on its policy, the students involved could face a 10-day suspension, placement in an alternative school, and/or expulsion.
"It's the first time we've had it at an elementary. We hope it will be the last. But unfortunately, we know that statistics nationwide that it's reaching younger and younger children," said Hamilton. "It's part of our society. So when something is part of your society that comes into schools, we have to deal with it."
Hamilton hopes this case will serve as a wake-up call for all parents and schools.
"I think it will empower more students throughout the district, and hopefully throughout the coast that OK, if this happens, they need to stand up and say they don't want this in their school," she said.
Hamilton said the school district has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drugs. That means students can't come to school with any drugs, not even prescription medication.
She added that every student goes through a drug prevention program during the first semester, and the district offers other programs and counseling throughout the year to all students and their families.