FEB. 8, UPDATE– A teacher’s aide at Northside Elementary School in Savannah has been fired amid concerns that special education students may have been dosed with a non-prescription supplement in a plan to sedate them.
Savannah police on Friday confirmed an investigation is underway, and said the district attorney general’s office is looking into the matter.
Hardin County Director of Schools Michael Davis said last Thursday that he terminated the aide on Jan. 29 for several conduct violations, including an unauthorized photograph of students.
He said he had evidence the aide conspired with a friend who did not work at the school to bring her some over-the-counter melatonin “gummie” pills, with the possible intent of sedating children in her special ed pre-K and kindergarten classroom.
Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body that can be made synthetically in a laboratory and is sold and advertised as a sleep aid.
Davis said he was notified of some instant messaging “Snapchat” posts the aide allegedly made about being frustrated by the behavior of the special education kids in her care, and her apparently wanting them to go to sleep or at the least calm down.
In the Snapchat exchange on Dec. 13, 2017, the 40-year-old aide is alleged to have asked a friend to buy a bottle of melatonin gummies and leave them in the aide’s car parked at Northside.
Later the same day, the aide posted a picture on Snapshat showing two of the special ed kids, with one asleep and the other sitting up on a cot, Davis said.
According to the director, security camera video at the school captured footage of the aide walking to the school exit doors and returning momentarily with what appears to be a vitamin or medication bottle in her hand.
Security video at Walmart shows the aide’s acquaintance buying the melatonin pills, and police also obtained a copy of the receipt, he said.
Davis said the now former aide contends the Snapchat exchange was “just a joke” and denies giving any pills to the students.