A 39-year-old elementary school clinic assistant in Pasco County has been arrested for stealing medicine from students, and the parents of one of those children expressed outrage Friday that it could even happen.
Pasco County deputies said Kimberly Dawn Smith stole Ritalin-type pills from at least two students at New River Elementary School in Wesley Chapel and might have even given the children a different kind of medicine in its place.
Investigators said, in one case, Smith tried to color a pill yellow to make it look like Ritalin before putting it back in the pill bottle.
The parents of one of the children asked only to be identified by their first names, Anthony and Melissa, because they didn't want to further harm their daughter. They said they realized something was wrong when the 6-year-old started feeling sick last week.
"That whole week, our daughter is complaining of headaches, that she's feeling hot and thirsty. She's not sleeping at night," Anthony said.
When Melissa decided to go to the school to pick up her child's medication, she noticed pills were missing. She said Smith gave her several excuses, which she quickly determined were lies.
"I didn't know what was happening with the medications, but I knew something was not adding up here," Melissa said.
Following an investigation by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, deputies arrested Smith and charged her with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. Deputies said they're not yet sure what type of medicine Smith was giving the children in place of the stolen pills.
Anthony and Melissa said Smith put their child's life in danger.
"My child could have suffered a heart attack," Anthony exclaimed. "I'm just floored by the whole thing. I can't wrap my brain around it."
"She's potentially harming children by not giving them the medication that they need," Melissa added.
According to the Florida Department of Health website, Smith has a list of complaints against her. She also had her nursing license suspended in January before it expired in July.
Linda Cobbe, a Pasco County Schools spokesperson, said Smith, who was hired in October 2012, didn't need a license to be a clinic assistant and passed a background check.
"Days after the report came back from the fingerprint saying that she had no arrests, [she was hired]," Cobbe said. "[She had] good recommendations, she seemed qualified."
Cobbe said Smith was also allowed to dispense medication under the supervision of a registered nurse.
"Her primary responsibilities were to administer first aid and dispense medication," she stated.
Anthony and Melissa, however, are demanding changes. They want the hiring process re-examined along with changes to how medications are monitored and distributed to children.
"It's got to change," Melissa insisted. "How many other parents are out there that this could be happening to their children? They need to be aware that this happened, that this was easy, that this woman was very flagrant and just very easily had total disregard for our children."
Deputies said they're continuing their investigation into Smith and more charges could be coming.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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