UPDATE: Valley High students hospitalized, one arrested after ‘adulterated drinks’

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2018

VALLEY — Several Valley High students were hospitalized after ingesting an unknown substance potentially containing codeine, according to the Valley Police Department.

According to Maj. Mike Reynolds with the Valley Police Department, 18-year-old Armani Deshon Ransom, was arrested Tuesday and charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, minor in possession of alcohol and chemical endangerment of exposing a child to an environment in which controlled substances are produced or distributed.

Four other minors also face charges and will have to make an appearance in juvenile court, Reynolds said. All four juveniles are charged with minor in possession of alcohol by consumption. One of the four juveniles also received an additional charge of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.  

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“The best thing as parents we can do is don’t be preachy or judgmental. Just let [our children] know there are consequences to this type of behavior and these types of drugs,” Reynolds said. “They are just looking for a high, but they could just as easily die from doing this kind of activity.”

At approximately 10:45 a.m. Monday, a Valley School Resource Officer was called to Valley High School in reference to a student that had ingested the substance, according to a press release from the VPD.

After speaking with the student, officers learned that another student had brought the adulterated drinks to school and passed them around to at least four others. Two of the students were taken to East Alabama-Lanier Hospital for treatment and released, the release said.

“It was basically a fruit drink with cough syrup, some alcohol and some type of prescription medication, we aren’t 100 percent sure what was in the bottle,” said Chambers County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge.

One of the students told police that the drinks possibly contained codeine, the release said.

The parents of the involved students were called to the school, several of whom stated they will have their children tested for illegal substances, per the press release.

The investigation is still ongoing and students are being interviewed. Some of the drink in question was recovered by police and will be tested by Forensic Sciences, the release said. Charges for those involved could include second-degree assault and criminal distribution of a controlled substance and are pending in both the Circuit Court and the Juvenile Court, as one of the students involved is reportedly over the age of 18.

“The one who brought it to school is facing expulsion as well as criminal charges,” Hodge said. “The other four will be facing school disciplinary measures according to our code of conduct for drug use on school campus.”

Hodge said that Valley High responded promptly to the situation.

“I am very thankful for our school nurse that reacted very quickly when an individual came in exhibiting symptoms of having taken drugs,” she said. “With her alerting EMS and the administration we were able to get on the investigation very quickly.”

Hodge is working with the school’s resource officer to discern what charges and disciplinary actions will be taken based on witness statements. She said the problem originated from the student gaining access to the substances in the first place.

“[Parents] can’t think that just having this conversation with your kids one time is enough, because kids are kids,” she explained. “You need to constantly be having these conversations and constantly checking up on your kid, too, because there are so many things out there that are available to them and we need to be aware.”