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Pot-laced brownies in school

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Posted: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 10:00 pm

Fifteen Morada Middle School students have been disciplined in last week's case of "marijuana laced brownies," principal Stephen Takemoto said Wednesday.

A 13-year-old, eighth-grade girl, was charged with a variety of felony and misdemeanor drug-related counts, and is also facing an expulsion hearing. Authorities did not release the girl's name because she is a juvenile.

It wasn't clear just what disciplinary measures the school took against the other 14 students, and the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department is seeking two other students involved in distribution the pot-tainted snacks. Takemoto said some of the students involved had no prior discipline problems but he did not have further details.

The district does have rules against bringing homemade food to school, but mainly to prevent against allergies and food poisoning caused by improper handling, said Vice Principal Janet Godina.

Takemoto said the student admitted to bringing two 2-square-inch brownies to school but gave no indication as to why. In a common area between classrooms and the cafeteria, students broke off and ate pieces of one brownie last Wednesday before school and did the same with another brownie on Thursday during lunch.

Some parents picking up their children after school Wednesday said they heard about the incident through a voice message from Takemoto and a letter sent home with students on Monday.

"They've been making pot brownies a long time. It's not like it's a new recipe. All it takes is a parent to tell their kids one story, and they put two and two together," said Sheri Congrave of Morada, whose son Joe Congrave is a seventh-grader at the school.

Leslie Haralson, also a parent, said she was appalled to hear the news, yet pleased the school took quick action.

"It's something I haven't heard of in quite a long time - it seems like something more from my era," Haralson said.

At about 2:45 p.m. last Friday, a male student told Godina about the brownies. Godina said in the 17 years she's worked at Morada Middle, this was the first time she'd heard of pot brownies on campus.

The school disputed media reports the brownies contained 1 ounce of marijuana, or 28.5 grams. As for the students who vomited after eating pieces of the brownies, "it's not like they were sick to their stomach. It was a small amount of fluid," Takemoto said.

"As many years as I've been in administration, I don't think the amount of marijuana (involved) would affect the students seriously," he added.

Regardless, the school and the school district's Child Welfare and Attendance division must take the incident seriously.

A student awaiting an expulsion hearing would typically be at home on an extended suspension. At the hearing, administrators, witnesses and parents can give their accounts of what happened.

The students did ingest something that was illegal, and the brownies could have just as easily included ecstasy, cocaine or another unknown substance, Takemoto said. He was also alarmed that students decided to eat something though they didn't know what was in it.

Administrators urged parents to talk with their children about drugs and alcohol.

"The silver lining to this is that we know our students feel comfortable enough to approach adults when they see something that's alarming, anything they sense that needs to be reported to adults," Takemoto said.

Sheriff's spokesman Les Garcia said the probation department of the juvenile justice center will review deputies' reports, which include interviews with students, and determine whether crimes were committed. Juvenile records are confidential, so it is not known what petitions have been filed, if any.

Contact reporter Kendyce Manguchei at kendycem@lodinews.com.

First published: Thursday, January 25, 2007

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