Head Start student brings eight baggies and $173 to school

Posted: October 10, 2013

PHILADELPHIA At his teacher's request Tuesday morning, a 4-year-old preschooler at Thomas Mifflin School dutifully emptied his pockets. Out came a wad of cash - $173 in total, officials would later determine - and eight bags filled with an off-white chunky substance.

That was enough for school officials to alert police, acquiesce to a K-9 sweep of the child's Head Start classroom, and send the child to a hospital to make sure he had not ingested what he had been carrying: what appeared to be crack cocaine.

Philadelphia police officials said they had dealt with young children bringing drugs to school before. But the 4-year-old boy who allegedly toted crack to his East Falls elementary school may be the youngest they have ever seen, Chief Inspector Cynthia Dorsey said.

"It's not common, but it does happen," she said. "I have never heard of a pre-K child" carrying drugs to school.

Police and district officials said they were unsure where the child got the baggies and the cash. Detectives served a search warrant Tuesday night related to the case in East Falls but would not comment further.

Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard said the youngster showed the cash to another child, who then notified a teacher. He said the teacher confiscated the cash and the baggies, and took them to the principal's office.

The child was taken to the nurse's office. His pupils did not react to light, officials said, and he was taken to St. Christopher's Hospital as a precautionary measure.

The principal called police, who conducted a search, along with a K-9 unit, of the classroom.

Jennifer Gallagher, who was at Mifflin shortly after noon Tuesday to pick up daughter Lucy, said that although she had planned to arrive early, she decided to come to the school right after she heard about the drug incident.

"It's upsetting. I'm shocked a kid was able to bring drugs into school," she said. She said a teacher told her the children were in no immediate danger.

Gallard said a letter would be sent to Mifflin parents to tell them what had happened. The district will check to see what services the 4-year-old may need, Gallard said.

The boy faces no disciplinary action. Neither the child's name nor his parents' were released.

"A child of that age who is in a place where he has access to that is a victim as much as anything else," Gallard said.


215-495-5855 @aubreyjwhelan

Inquirer staff writer Mike Newall contributed to this article.

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