Commissioner asks schools to help with bath salts danger

AUGUSTA – Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen is asking school administrators and nurses to educate themselves and other school staff on the dangers and warning signs of bath salts use by students.

Following a surge in use of the synthetic drug, which is a hallucinogenic, and a parallel surge in emergency room visits due to overdose, Commissioner of Public Safety John Morris asked Commissioner Bowen to share information with school personnel at the start of the school year. Gov. Paul R. LePage also spoke of his concern for the safety of school-age children with regard to bath salts in a press conference last week.

“The use of these drugs has increased so rapidly we really don’t know what to expect,” Bowen said. “We want to be prepared and make sure that our teachers, nurses, principals, and others are aware of the symptoms so we can help any child who is in danger.”

Bowen issued a Health Alert to schools this week, with a link to information about bath salts, symptoms to watch for, action to take, and additional resources. The Health Alert can be found at: http://mainedoenews.net/2011/08/17/alert-bath-salts/.

Gov. LePage reiterated his concern for the safety of students and adults at schools.

“One of my major concerns is this dangerous drug will become available to our school children,” LePage said. “I am very concerned that with schools opening soon these drugs have the potential of finding their way into the classrooms.”

He added: “This is another step in creating awareness to this important issue. I applaud Commissioner Bowen and the school administrators and nurses in taking a proactive role in increasing the safety for Maine’s students.”

David Connerty-Marin | Maine Department of Education | 207-624-6880