Thirteen Antelope Valley High School students were treated at a hospital Wednesday after taking illicitly obtained Ritalin, and about 150 of the prescription-only pills were confiscated on campus, authorities said.
Three became seriously ill from an overdose, officials said. The others showed symptoms of grogginess or incoherence. All had been released from Antelope Valley Hospital by evening.
"They are all OK," Principal Mark Bryant said.
Ritalin is given to hyperactive children to calm them down. Its possession is illegal without a doctor's prescription, Sheriff's Sgt. Patrick Atkins said. The Sheriff's Department launched an investigation to determine who was distributing the pills on campus, and criminal prosecution is possible, he said.
The first student became ill and fell during a flag-lowering ceremony in remembrance of the Sept. 11 tragedy. School officials called an ambulance and learned from his classmates that he had taken the pills. When two more students showed overdose symptoms of grogginess and incoherence, Bryant got on the public address system.
"We were imploring the students to come forward if they had taken the pills," he said. "We just started hunting all these kids down."
Eight students who had taken the pills but were not seriously ill were taken to the hospital by ambulance as a precaution. Three others who said they had taken the pills were released to their parents, officials said.
Antelope Valley Hospital spokesman Ed Callahan said by late afternoon, 13 students had been treated.
Bryant and police said they don't believe the drug-taking had anything to do with the 9/11 anniversary. "There was nothing to indicate that," the principal said.
Bryant said he believes one or two students may have been the source of the pills. Wednesday's incident was the first he had heard of the drug being illicitly passed around on campus, he said.