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Students face suspension over caffeine pills

April 10, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Seven Hedgesville High School students accused of taking caffeine pills could be suspended for five to 10 days, high school Principal Frank Aliveto said Thursday.

School officials also will talk to the students about the dangers of taking caffeine pills, Aliveto said.

"You just don't want to punish kids," Aliveto said. "You want them to understand what they did."

Aliveto said he believes the six girls and one boy accused of taking the caffeine pills on school property did so out of curiosity.

Although the students were taken to City Hospital near Martinsburg after they took the pills, they did not become sick, Aliveto said. Ambulance officials recommended that the students be taken to the hospital to determine what they had taken, said Aliveto.

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The students were treated and released from the hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Aliveto said he believes the students obtained the caffeine pills from another student at Hedgesville High. Aliveto said he would recommend to the Berkeley County Board of Education that the boy be expelled.

The seven students could be suspended under a Berkeley County Schools disciplinary policy that deals with a number of possible infractions, including drug use, according to Superintendent of Schools James Bennett.

Students are considered in violation of the policy if they consume drugs such as alcohol, or even over-the-counter drugs, if they are not being prescribed to take the medications, according to Bennett.

"We view it as one of the most severe offenses by kids," said Bennett, referring to drug use.

Although Aliveto described the incident as an isolated case, several students at Hedgesville High Thursday said it is common for students at the school to abuse medications such as muscle relaxers or codeine. Sometimes pills are sold for 50 cents or a dollar, or handed out, the students said.

The suspension process for the seven students was expected to begin Thursday or today, Aliveto said.

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