Drug charges filed against Perkins track coach

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter has filed drug charges against Perkins Schools track coach and middle school teacher Tracey Hiss.
Alissa Widman Neese
Sep 10, 2013
Hiss, accused of providing prescription-strength pain relief patches to students earlier this year, was charged Friday with possession of a dangerous drug. She has not yet entered a plea on the minor misdemeanor.

Baxter reviewed the case with Hiss’ attorney, and the pair agreed to have Baxter file a bill of information, waiving her right to a grand jury.

“It’s my understanding she will be pleading no contest, but a date hasn’t been set yet,” Baxter said.

As part of the agreement, Hiss must complete a diversion probation program. Given that she has no criminal background, the case will then be dismissed with no conviction.

“She has a good record as a teacher and a coach, and she obviously had pretty poor judgement in this situation,” Baxter said. “She certainly needs to be held accountable, but within reason, which is why we came to this resolution.”

During the past school year, Hiss allegedly provided a handful of students with adhesive Lidoderm patches, which contain the drug lidocaine, according to Perkins police reports. Two individuals told athletic director Mike Strohl about the situation after obtaining information from at least four students in early May.

When Strohl approached Hiss, she told him the students stole the patches from her school office, according to a police report.

After reviewing the case, Baxter determined her accusations were not true. As such, students will not be charged.

“I don’t believe that happened, and that needs to be addressed at her plea hearing,” Baxter said.

Because lidocaine is not a scheduled drug listed in the Ohio Revised Code, possession of a dangerous drug is an appropriate citation for both the act of possessing the pain relief patches without a prescription and giving them to students, Baxter said.

It’s unknown how the criminal charge will impact Hiss’ status as a Perkins Schools employee.

District superintendent Jim Gunner gave Hiss a written notice of her suspension with pay May 14, pending the criminal investigation’s outcome.

Hiss was then included in a list of district-wide reductions enacted in June, based on a teacher’s seniority and class subject. Several elementary and middle school elective teachers, including health, were eliminated, so Hiss was no longer considered a district employee.

As of Monday, Gunner said a parttime health position is available at Furry Elementary School. Hiss could be recalled to the position based on her seniority, but the district will not make any decisions until the investigation is completely resolved. Another eliminated teacher with less seniority is currently filling in at the position at a substitute teacher’s pay rate.

“We can’t legally recall (the substitute) to the position until we know Tracey’s legal status,” Gunner said. “The district then has to make a decision whether to take disciplinary action or rehire her, which would take place at a public meeting.”

Lidoderm patches are placed on the skin to numb an area for temporary pain relief, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website. Side effects typically include a range of temporary skin irritations or allergic reactions. Rarely can an individual overdose on local anesthetics such as lidocaine, but serious side effects are possible.

Comments

Good 2 B Me

Hey Gunner, why not just offer her $1.7M from the operating fund?

From the Grave

At least she wasn't handing out condoms!

Perkins2060

When is the next levy after the next levy?

Erie Countian

Hiss should be fired, and not simply because she distributed Lidocaine. She should be fired because she lied and said her students stole it from her! But I suppose her teachers union will stick up for her even though she threw her own students under the bus to cover her actions. Gee, what a fine example to our youth! Disgusting!

brassman

She's a good teacher who made a stupid mistake. I hope everything turns out alright for her.

Finn Finn

Not A stupid mistake, multiple stupid mistakes; giving these patches to at least five students, then denying she gave them out, simultaneously claiming that the students stole them from her office. And apparently, from the information in this article, she still hasn't come clean. The district pays her way too much money to be behaving like this. Termination will set an example that Perkins will not tolerate criminal activity. She is young and will bounce back. She should be thankful that the only penalty is loss of her job, and not, as huronguy pointed out, the death of a student.

Tool Box

I agree Finn Finn.... The game changer for me was the fact that she is a teacher for our students and she decided to lie about this! I don't want my daughter to learn from her! She is not teaching proper values! Integrity is something that she CLEARLY does not have! Not only did she lie but she tried to blame the students! THIS IS JUST WRONG!!! She needs to be FIRED!!!

huronguy

Seriously??? She should be out on her butt with more charges than just a minor misdemeanor. She gave children drugs!!! what if a child had a reaction and died?
what else did she do with or to these children that hasn't been brought to light?
If I went into any place of business or school and started handing out prescription meds to children I guarantee I'd have more charges than 1 minor misdemeanor, Mr.Baxter, I don't even know why you even bothered to charge her, Oh so her attorney can make money and pay for you and his next golf outing and the drinks and food it includes.

Buckeye_Nation

really? you're an idiot, lidocaine is hardly dangerous, all it is is a topical cream that numbs an area. she should be disciplined but this is not that big of a deal, parents overreacting, since that is all people know how to do anymore

WesTaylor

Parents didn't overreact. The trainer noticed her doing it, and turned her in. Lidocaine masks pain, so I kid can run when the body is hurt. It is not to be used by athletes.

Julie R.

"She certainly needs to held accountable, but within reason, which is why we came to this resolution," said Kevin Baxter.

If God ever started striking down hypocrites, that Eeerie County courthouse would be the Erie County morgue.

Darwin's choice

^^this^^

Darkhorse

I can't believe how stupid people can be to do such a thing. The school needs to get rid of her. She shows no common sense to give any kind of drug to a kid. As a parent, I would be furious and outraged.

Karma89

I think a bigger question is where did she get the patches, you need and Rx for those??? Who wrote her the script for them?? Hmmmm.... Someone could be in BIG trouble!

EZOB

Erie Countian,
Isn't the union still sticking up for Her? She's getting paid, isn't she?

Julie R.

Hey Mr. Baxter, how come attorneys and judges are never held accountable?

As an afterthought, how come YOU aren't?

Stop It

Damn, Jules... Do you drag that graveyard with you wherever you go or is it just in here?

Julie R.

Those are the ones that are a very real threat to society. They have about as much respect for the people as they do the law ---- which is zilch and then some.

gramafun

I am afraid Julie has a point about Baxter this time And this teacher should go out the door on her butt. The AG would be in a tizzy over her position on drugs. He is instrumental in stopping drugs wherever he can. Could you imagine what position he would take on a teacher passing them out to students: even local patches? No way.

deertracker

I too would like to know the answer to Julie R.'s question.

Dont Worry Be Happy

She drives me crazy.

There you go again

The appalling behavior of our president (lying, forgetting, "not knowing about") seems to have trickled down to local governments, as well. Unfortunately, our society seems to be more accepting of this behavior. Sad world.

donutshopguy

It's the lying and blaming the students for her actions that makes me question if she could ever be a competent teacher again.

Tool Box

I agree!

Mum-of-One

Although the patches are relatively safe to use, it's the reasons for which they are used that matter. It should be a Doctor who decides who should use them, and when they should be used, not Ms. Hiss. It would seem from the article she did not have a prescription for them either. By saying that the students stole them from her office did not help her case. In essence, by saying that, she admitted she had them in her office. Why did she have them without a prescription and why were they in her office? Did she take them there to distribute them to students or were they for her own use? Either way if there was no prescription she should not have had them anyway. She is not trustworthy enough to be teaching health or anything else to students.

candleburner

I agree with the comments that she needs to be held accountable and fired from her position at the school. What I don't understand is that she's being charges with a minor misdemeanor and she's waiving her right to a grand jury? The two don't go together. Only in the case of a felony would she be bound over to county court and then face a grand jury. There is no minor misdemeanor in county court. And to answer Karma89's question I believe that the only way someone else would be in trouble for the patches would be if they were writing the script knowing that she was distributing them to minors and/or if she were accepting money for them. If she had a legitimate script for the patches for herself and she was giving them to the students without charging them I don't believe there would be any criminal wrongdoing on the physician's part there. I could be wrong about that though. I've been wrong before and I will be again. But Perkins School district would be stupid to bring her back and I think they're opening themselves up to a lot of trouble if they do bring her back after others have "retired" or been outright fired for various reasons.

Unassumer

This is a gross waste of taxpayer dollars. Being fired was enough. This is ridiculous. Go after real criminals.

OMGreally

But she wasn't fired, first she was suspended with pay and then "laid off" is the way it sounds....

LuckOfTheIrish

A regular in sports, when I was in high school, the training room was often left unlocked or unoccupied and if we needed to wrap our knee or wrist etc., we did. This included many creams to relieve pain or icy hot. I can honestly see how they could have come up missing.

ridiculousness

the patches weren't in the training room. she had them in her office as well as her coaching bag. she personally handed them to the athletes. none of them broke in to her office and stole anything. and it was the school trainer who questioned it and brought it to the athletic directors attention. the girls involved where completely blind sided when they were pulled into the office and questioned.

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