Florida schools, law enforcement warn of candy-colored ‘rainbow fentanyl’

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Rainbow fentanyl pills and powder come in a variety of bright colors, shapes and sizes.
Rainbow fentanyl pills and powder come in a variety of bright colors, shapes and sizes. [ DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION | Drug Enforcement Administration ]
Published Sept. 14, 2022

The big story: School districts in Florida have issued warnings to families and staff members to keep their eyes open for a dangerous drug disguised to lure children.

“Rainbow fentanyl” comes in colorful pills and powders that looks like candy, and has in instances been found mixed in with real candy. Fentanyl is an opioid that can be 100 times more powerful than morphine, and just a tiny amount can kill.

Thousands of the pills were recently seized at a U.S. port by federal officials, who said the “alarming emerging trend” appears to be a new method by drug cartels to reach young people. Read more from the Sun-Sentinel.

In Volusia County, law enforcement alerted parents that fentanyl was found outside a restroom in a local high school, WOFL reports.

Hot topics

Budgets: With deadlines fast approaching, Florida school boards adopted budgets and tax rates for the 2022-23 fiscal year. In Pasco, the board approved a $1.8 billion spending plan with a reduced property tax rate. The Brevard board signed a budget of nearly $1.5 billion, Florida Today reports. In St. Johns, board members authorized a 33-cent decrease in the local property tax rate, WTLV reports.

School politics: Gov. Ron DeSantis is running ads touting how he had schools open during the pandemic for children to attend in person. The ads don’t mention how DeSantis ordered schools closed for several weeks in spring 2020, Florida Phoenix reports.

Employee pay: The Manatee County School Board ratified an agreement boosting its minimum teacher salary to $55,177, WUSF reports. The amount includes a supplement supported by a local-option property tax. Manatee’s starting teacher pay is now among the highest in Florida, WFTS reports. • The Citrus County School Board approved raises for several categories of employees, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. • Bay County substitute teachers working on their degrees will be paid more, WMBB reports.

Grand jury fallout: Duval County school district officials said they have established new formalized methods to track and report crimes at schools, after being criticized by a grand jury, WTLV reports. • The Broward County school district announced several changes, including the departure of three administrators, as a result of the grand jury findings, WSVN reports.

Other school news

Santa Rosa County middle and high school students traditionally have had half-days while taking winter exams. Not this year, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Bay County schools offered a four-week summer program to combat learning deficits from the pandemic. Early results indicate the initiative was successful, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Four suspended Broward County School Board members will have to pay their own legal fees. The newly constituted board voted unanimously to stop covering the costs, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Once again, law enforcement warns that threats against schools are no joking matter. They can lead to felony charges, officials remind as the number of threats rise in Central Florida, WFTV reports.

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From the police blotter ... An employee of a Hillsborough County private school was indicted on allegations of stealing tuition payments. • A Pinellas County family accused a Gulfport police officer of assaulting a teen at Boca Ciega High School, WFLA reports. • A Seminole County elementary school resource officer was suspended amid an investigation into allegations involving child pornography, WOFL reports. • Six students at an Alachua County high school were arrested after a lunchtime fight, WGFL reports.

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