A woman who works as a bus driver and provides campus security was arrested on suspicion of providing fentanyl to students at a Riverside school.
Melissa Harloam-Garrison, 46, who lives in a cottage on the property of Bright Futures Academy, was arrested by Riverside police and booked on possession of narcotics for sale, sale of narcotics to minors, possession of controlled substances, drug addict in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm on school campus, being a person prohibited from owning or possession a firearm, and child endangerment.
Bright Futures Academy is a non-public school that serves K-12 students with special needs.
Harloam-Garrison is being held on $50,000 bail.
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Her husband, who also lives in the campus cottage, was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm on campus and being a person prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm. He is being held on $25,000 bail.
It was not immediately clear whether they have an attorney.
A court appearance was scheduled for Friday.
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“This event has shaken us to our core. Beyond the shock of the allegations, we are saddened that the health and safety of our students were put at risk. That is completely unacceptable to us! Our staff and administration are communicating with everyone involved to make sure our students are cared for. We may be taken by surprise by this but we aren’t distracted from providing excellent education,” said Betti Colucci, President/Principal of Bright Futures Academy said in a statement.
In a statement, Riverside police said drugs, guns and ammunition were recovered from the cottage. Officers responded to the location Tuesday after receiving a call for service regarding a student at the school.
Officers were contacted by staff members whom they suspect was providing fentanyl to students. Officers learned that a student at the school overdosed on the drug last week at a home in another community, police said.
Details about the student's condition were not immediately available. In 2021, overdoses involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in the United States surpassed 71,000, up 23% from the year before.
"Officers conducted a search of the cottage and found over a hundred suspected Fentanyl pills, two handguns, and various types of ammunition," police said in the statement.
Formed in 2012, Bright Futures Academy has campuses in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Together, the campuses have about 150 students. About 18 local school districts place students with special needs in the academy, according to its website.
The schools serve students with severe behavioral problems, autism and other special needs.