Middle schoolers accused of running drug ring - WSMV Channel 4

Middle schoolers accused of running drug ring

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BAXTER, TN (WSMV) -

Police have busted a drug ring, and it's especially troubling because of how young the suspects are.

The drug deals were apparently happening in the halls of a middle school, and authorities say the dealers are just 11 and 12 years old.

The Cornerstone Middle School sixth-graders, who recently passed the D.A.R.E. program and vowed never to use illegal drugs, have been accused of doing just that and now face extended suspensions from school and trouble with the law.

Four boys and one girl recently got caught allegedly buying, selling and taking pills stolen from home.

Some of the pills were prescription, some over the counter, but all have educators and parents in the area deeply concerned about issues much larger than a few kids making some poor choices.

"I just think the problem of kids having access to medicine is getting more prevalent," said registered nurse Mary Eich. "Look at all of the dangers of what drugs can lead into. They start out with one thing, and they end up with something worse."

Principal Billy Stepp can't go into specifics about what the punishments will be, but he did say, typically, it would be an extended suspension up to a year.

The students and their parents have the right to appeal.

"We're in that process right now," Stepp said.

Those hearings began Tuesday and will continue through the rest of the week.

"We try to prevent this. We work with our community resources for that prevention, and we have an active D.A.R.E. program here - and D.A.R.E. graduation and all that with students - so we try. Can't control every decision a child does," Stepp said.

Baxter police are also investigating, and the police chief said while the case is in its preliminary stages, they are working with the school to determine if these students should face criminal charges as well.

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