Pubdate: Sun, 05 Sep 2004
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2004 The Decatur Daily
Author: Clyde L. Stancil
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)
Bookmark: (Youth)


CADDO -- Among the photographs that Mechell Dover carries on her
camera phone is one that she would continue to see even if she deleted
it and closed her eyes.

It shows her 16-year-old son, Tom Oliver, lying in a hospital bed with
wires stuck to his chest so medical workers can monitor his vital signs.

There is a black blob on the photo that looks like someone used the
blotting feature in a photo editing software package to hide his mouth.

In reality, it is the charcoal that physicians forced him to ingest so
that it would absorb the drugs he took Aug. 23 in the parking lot at
East Lawrence High School, said Dover.

He is out of the hospital, but Dover said that there is a possibility
that Tom could have organ failure.

The photograph is in sharp contrast to another that Dover carries in
her digital photo album. It shows a smiling, happier Tom and is
reminiscent of how he looked when he left home that morning.

It was the day that she said East Lawrence Principal Tommy Whitlow
called her to say that her son had failed a sobriety test.

Whitlow was out of the office and could not be reached for comment.
Superintendent Dexter Rutherford said that he could not comment
because of the associated disciplinary hearing that would take place
in two weeks.

But he said that if there is any kind of illegal activity at the
school, the system will try to curtail it.

"I was at East Lawrence (Thursday), and it's a well-disciplined
environment and a well-operated school," he said. "It appears to be a
safe learning environment, and I certainly wouldn't want to paint a
negative picture. There are certainly no widespread issues there that
I'm aware of."

Rutherford said, however, that he wouldn't be so naive as to say that
the accusations that Dover is making could not happen.


Dover said that her son told Whitlow that he was having a reaction to
a prescription painkiller and another prescription drug that he was
taking for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

As part of his treatment program at Bradford Health Services, Dover
said, her son had to be honest about the drugs he ingested. He later
confessed that he had ingested Xanax that he purchased from another
student in the school's parking lot.

Dover alleges that the student sold it to her son out of his sport
utility vehicle.

Drugs in His System

Toxicology tests showed that he ingested three or four of what Dover
said are Xanax bars and three Adderall ZR, a time release medicine for
his ADHD condition.

Dover said her son took the medicine to hide it from the Drug Abuse
Resistance Education officer who searched him at school.

She dispenses the Adderall to him one pill at a time, but she said
that Tom stole the extra pills from her.

"He (also) purchased them from the same boy at a convenience store
where the boy works," Dover said. "This boy wasn't the only boy. My
son was involved in the trading of drugs. He was trading prescription
drugs for other drugs with boys at school. On the third day of school,
six boys had skipped with the boy who sold him the drugs. There was
drinking and smoking and doing prescription pills."

That day, Dover said, the six students stopped at someone's house and
bought eight Lortab from a 14-year-old girl.

Other in Rehab

Dover said that she talked to the mother of the boy who sold her son
the drugs and that the mother claims the teen also is in drug

Tom is facing expulsion from school.

"I'm not fighting it because he was wrong," Dover said.

The outcome of the expulsion is not a great concern for Dover because
she doesn't plan to send her son back to school anytime soon.

"He's in Bradford now and he has to go to a halfway house because 14
days is not enough to dry out," she said.

"He has to learn new learned behavior -- how to deal with drug
dealers, how to say 'no.' He will do school there (in long-term treatment).

"I understand that education is important, but I want to keep him

"Kids can't get educated when they're passing drugs around

Dover also said that Whitlow said he can't do anything until he
catches the student with drugs.

"Why would my kid lie?" she asked. "He's lying there half dead. Other
children have told me the same thing. When you have two and three
people backing it up, what else do you need? The coffin?"

Dover wants the school's parents to form a group, Parents Against Drug
Dealers, and begin to monitor the school's parking lots and hallways.

"Teachers and principals can't be everywhere," she said. "One DARE
officer can't cut it when you have 600 students. If we don't start
doing something, our kids are going to start dying." 
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