Destin, FL – A 27-year-old school health technician has been criminally charged for allegedly stealing prescription medications from multiple students and swapping some of them with Aleve or aspirin, according to investigators.
The investigation into Destin Middle School Health Technician Makayla Crandall began in October, after a young student who relied on Crandall for daily medication administration noticed that there was a different color and imprint on her pills, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) said in a press release on Dec. 2.
The student mentioned the change to her mother, who later told investigators she had recently “observed distinct differences in her child’s behavior,” according to the OCSO.
School officials were made aware of the situation, which subsequently resulted in an OCSO school resource officer and Destin Middle School employees forcing entry into the cabinet where Crandall stored student medications.
That search occurred on Oct. 4.
They conducted an audit and discovered that at least 110 amphetamine/dexmethylphenidate pills were missing from at least five students’ prescribed medications, according to the OCSO.
Some of the missing medications appeared to have been swapped out for non-prescription medications.
“One bottle contained an ALEVE pill and another had seven pills later identified as aspirin,” the OCSO said.
Investigators said they spoke with the parents of two other students who said they “had become concerned after noticing a resurfacing of behavioral issues with their children.”
The audit revealed that a medication bottle belonging to one of those students was found to contain aspirin, according to the sheriff’s office.
A third victim’s mother said she dropped off a bottle of Adderall at the school for her daughter on Sept. 29, but that she ended up having to take her to the emergency room on Oct. 4 “due to her erratic, unusual behavior,” the OCSO said.
Crandall, who was hired as a school heath technician in July, was the only person who had a key to access the medication cabinet, according to investigators.
“She claimed to have a valid prescription for Adderall but no [prescription] could be found in law enforcement databases,” the OCSO said. “Crandall was also unable to explain how student medications were missing or had been switched out.”
Crandall was arrested on Dec. 2 on five counts of child neglect, three counts of grand theft of a controlled substance, and one count of failure to maintain narcotics records.
Her bond was set at $9,000, WKRG reported.
Crandall, who is not a registered nurse, was hired by a third-party company, Aveanna, to work at the school as a health technician, according to WKRG.
She was removed from her position at the school on Oct. 4, but her current job status is unclear.
Okaloosa County School District Superintendent Marcus Chambers said he was “appalled” to learn of the charges against Crandall, WKRG reported.
“We will work with authorities to ensure this individual, if guilty, is punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Chambers said in a press release. “We fully supported the efforts by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office throughout the investigation and have mandated that Aveanna put in place additional checks and balances with regard to dispensing student medicine in our school clinics.”
“Parents should have absolute confidence that their child’s visit to the school clinic is handled professionally and accurately,” he added. “Aveanna has been a good healthcare partner over a number of years and acted swiftly in this matter to address the District’s concerns.”