New DISD Drug Detection Dog's First Stop Was At Middle School With Student Suicide

Rumors of drugs at a middle school prompted the deployment of Athena, a pit bull drug detection dog who will focus on middle schools.
Rumors of drugs at a middle school prompted the deployment of Athena, a pit bull drug detection dog who will focus on middle schools. DISD Police via Twitter
Rumors of young drug dealers pressuring classmates swirled in Oak Cliff schools after an 11-year-old student at Stockard Middle School killed himself last week. In response, DISD officials sent out a drug detection dog to middle schools.

The dog's first stop was March 20 at Stockard Middle School and there were no hits for narcotics, according to Robyn Harris, DISD news and information specialist for DISD. "That's a positive sign. And that's not to say it's an end-all, be-all, but we did do our due diligence," Harris says.

The canine, a white and brown pit bull named Athena, will focus largely on middle schools, Harris says. "That's an adolescent age and that's a time when they're really persuaded by different events," she says. "It's a middle school. It's that funny period."

At a meeting in Oak Cliff held last week in the wake of the suicide of Julio Ortiz, a parent told school officials and police that kids are being bullied into selling drugs. Sophia Rodriguez told the Observer that her 12-year-old son, a friend of Ortiz, said students threatened other students into illegal business.

Harris says there is no indication that the suicide was prompted by pressure to sell drugs. "From what we're able to tell, because the student was a pretty jovial kid and participated in a number of activities — even on that day was extremely active from what folks can tell — there was nothing to believe that those type of allegations that are being made were happening," she tells the Observer.

She says drugs are as big an issue in DISD schools as they are anywhere else. "This is a school district. I know that our police department and our law enforcement agency here would say, too, that there's not a campus, I'm sure, that doesn't have some sort of drug incident throughout a school year," she says. "I just think it's a reality of where we are in this day and age."

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Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner

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