The father of the Selma High School sophomore who passed away in the school lunchroom accused the school on Thursday of not responding until it was too late and failing to notify him of the incident.

However, the school denied these claims were true.

“As far as I know, the police told me my son was fine from 8 in the morning to 10:50 that morning,” said Trumaine Mitchell, whose 16-year-old son died on November 8. “They said he was happy-go-lucky, running around. Nothing was wrong with him. At 10:50, they got him on camera holding [a] test.” 

When the boy starting feeling bad, “he went to the nursing stations,” Mitchell continued. “I guess they checked him out. They said nothing was wrong with him, so he went back to class. He went to the cafeteria, and he sat down, and he told the students he wasn’t feeling good. The students told staff members, janitors and teachers something was wrong [with him].”

Mitchell told 1819 News that witnesses claim the faculty never responded to the students’ warnings and that his son was pronounced dead 15 minutes later.

When 1819 News informed Selma City Schools Superintendent Zickeyous Byrd of Mitchell’s accusations, he said they were false.

“I can’t go into details regarding the investigation, but that is absolutely untrue,” Byrd said.

Mitchell said he knows his son died of an overdose and was told several students, including his son, were caught drinking some sort of liquid on camera.

“My son was never into drugs or anything,” Mitchell said. “He was a good kid … That particular day, somebody passed him something, and they didn’t tell him what it was, and he drank it.”

The substance that caused the overdose is currently unknown. Officials are waiting on a toxicology report to determine the exact cause of death.

However, Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson indicated to reporters later that month that the death likely had to do with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is as much as 100 times stronger than morphine. Though some fentanyl is produced by pharmaceutical companies, illicit fentanyl is sometimes cut into other drugs like cocaine and heroin or added to pills.

Mitchell said the school did not alert him to what was going on; instead, he said his neighbor who had a child at the school told him the information before the school did. Mitchell claimed that although he was the legal guardian of his son, school officials didn’t make contact with him until a few days later when they came to his house to ask if there was anything they could do.

“Absolutely false,” Byrd said in response to the accusation. “The school system used the contact information that they had.”

Mitchell also accused the school system of not reaching out to him or the mother of his child to inform them of a prayer walk held in his son’s memory. 

Selma City Schools communications professional Cynthia Milledge said that she knows “for a fact” that the prayer walk was organized by students and not the school and that students invited the parents.

“I feel hurt because I feel like if you send your child to school, he’s supposed to be safe,” Mitchell said. “... They let him down. They could have done a better job. I don’t understand how they got the stuff in the school.”

Mitchell said he tried to get the school system to contribute to his son’s funeral, but they refused. He said he is currently looking for legal counsel.

Byrd said that state authorities are still investigating the incident.

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