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Oct 8, 2015 4:26 PM

Complaints arise after Wakefield teacher allegedly hands out hypodermic needle pens


WAKEFIELD - School officials say concerns regarding a Paul School teacher was handing out hypodermic needle pens has been "taken under advisement."

The issue was brought up at a Wednesday school board meeting by Priscilla Colbath, once a district school board member, who also sparked a heated conversation between parents at the school in an online Facebook forum.

Colbath said she was contacted by members of the public regarding the issue following the discovery of a hypodermic needle in the school's parking lot on September 25.

“They weren’t sure if it contained any drugs or not ," said police Lt. Mark O'Brien.

O'Brien told NH1 News officers were called to the school and given the needle, which tested only for insulin.

The next day, authorities were asked to return to the school after a student claimed they had found another needle. But upon further investigation, it was determined to be a plastic writing pen in the shape of a syringe.

“I could see how it could cause an alarm," O'Brien said. "I’m not sure why it was in the school area.”

Police said they were unsure if the syringe pen came from the group allegedly handed out by a teacher.

The school's principal, Jerry Gregoire, declined comment and deferred questions on the allegations to SAU 64 Superintendent Michael Tursi.

“I cannot confirm or deny any of that information," Tursi said via phone.

The superintendent also declined to confirm if an investigation had been launched into the complaint, stating only "It has been taken under advisement."

A letter from Gregoire, dated Sept. 29, informed parents of a community forum that was held Monday at the school to discuss the growing heroin epidemic in the area.

In the letter, Gregoire states that following the discovery of syringes on school property they "have begun walking through the parking lot prior to the start of each school day, as well as the playground prior to recess."

School officials estimated more than 100 people attended Monday night's forum. Parents have since spoken up about their concerns.

"It was quite the scare," said Christine Berlind, who has children at the Paul School. "We had to sit down and talk about what you might find at the playground that doesn’t belong there.”

Berlind said a syringe pen should be included in the items that have no place under the footsteps of school children. She said she was also concerned to hear that a teacher may have handed them out.

“With what’s going on in the state, I guess it was pretty out of line," Berlind said.

Syringe pens were seen available for purchase at a Hooksett Target store on Wednesday. Some customers told NH1 News that they were upset the store would sell such items while the state is dealing with a heroin epidemic.

On Thursday, a NH1 News reporter attempted to purchase syringe pens from a Target in Somersworth. Store associates said the item had been removed from shelves overnight.

More than 550 people have died from drug overdoses in New Hampshire since January 1, 2014.


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