DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — Mother of sixth-grade twins Diane Lansing said her daughter Harper noticed her Adderral medication at school looked different, but she never expected to uncover an alleged criminal act.
Destin Middle School nurse Makayla Lacey Crandall, 27, is charged with three counts of grand theft of a controlled substance, five counts of child neglect, and one count of failure to maintain a narcotics record.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office took Crandall into custody on Dec. 2. OCSO said an investigation revealed Crandall swapped and stole more than 110 pills from five different students.
It’s important to note that Crandall is not a registered nurse but a health tech hired by the district’s third-party provider, Aveanna. Crandall was placed at Destin Middle School this school year.
Lansing said her daughter first told her about the medication looking different in September.
“We started noticing her grades drop and assignments were not getting done,” said Lansing. “The first indication that I had about the medicine was my daughter saying my medicine doesn’t look the same at school as it does at home.”
After uncommon outbursts and changes in Harper’s health and behavior, Lansing decided to dig deeper.
“My husband was leaving to take her twin brother to practice and she’s eating dinner next to me and she was just so crazy and I asked her if she was taking her Medicine,” said Lansing. “She said ‘yes, why?’ I said I was just wondering if their medicine is still the same and she said ‘Yeah, it’s the same. Well, it’s not the same as when I take it home, but if the same as what I take at school. It’s the Aleve’ and that’s when I was like I’m sorry what? What do you mean Aleve? Are you sure? and she thought about it and just spelled out A-L-E-V-E and my heart just dropped.”
The concerned mother went to the school principal on Oct. 3 and checked the cabinets after hours, where they found Harper’s Adderall replaced with Aleve.
Lansing said she spoke to Crandall multiple times over the phone since September, being reassured of the child’s safety and care with the ADHD medication.
“I received a text message from a number I don’t know and it says, hi, this is Makayla, the school nurse. Then she kind of goes over like the whole ‘Harper did tell me that the medication looked different and I’m so sorry. I thought she was joking, I would have called you. I take my job very seriously.’ She seemed very helpful in that text, reassuring me, and sending me pictures of Harper’s medication that was there.”
Once the swap was revealed, Lansing said emotions took over. Crandall was removed from her position on Oct. 4 pending the investigation.
“The what-ifs tortured me,” said Lansing. “I didn’t know what she had been given because Harper did say what she had been given before the Aleve the first time she brought it up, was neither the Aleve nor her medication and it was this Gray-blue pill with one line on the back. So I think initially it was a lot of anxiety of the what if and then making sure my daughter was OK. Since then, yeah, there’s been a lot of anger because I can just see how easily it happened with the way that the system works.”
Lansing said other mothers have reached out to thank her for bringing this to light. She said one of the kids with the medicine stolen is diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and relies on medication.
“That that’s a whole different feeling of emotion because she let us know that we basically saved her son’s life, she was giving him aspirin,” said Lansing.
While Crandall will face criminal charges, Lansing said this is a system failure that needs to be addressed.
“I hate that they’re calling her nurse when she’s not registered. She called herself a nurse, but the school uses that term as well, and that’s the same as saying this is our school lawyer when he’s not. When they put that trust in us by calling her the school nurse, I assumed being from California, you have to have a license to be a nurse. I assumed this woman had a license and to find out that she was a health technician, the whole thing is broken.”
Lansing said she finally spoke with Superintendent Marcus Chambers about the incident after Crandall was arrested, where he ensured changes will be made. Lansing said his proposal is not good enough for her.
“So far their change is to have random audits done at any time, but that was also their policy previously. Their policy with Aveanna who is the third party contracted to with these health-tech nurses is to audit themselves once a month to make sure their pills match everything up, which is way too easy because clearly, she was replacing medication so her numbers matched up. Another policy is that your supervisor can come to do random audits at any time, but they’re also severely understaffed that they never see their Supervisor. So in my eyes, that’s nothing different than what’s been done,” said Lansing. “He did say that the medication where they were stored previously has been moved to a different cabinet, a locking one and he said that he was going to have all of the cabinets in the school district checked, and if any weren’t up to this new standard, then he would have them replaced. I asked if there were going to be any cameras and he said it’s not off the table, but they haven’t decided yet. They’re still looking into a lot of stuff so while I’m thankful that he called me, there wasn’t any change.”
From a parenting perspective, Lansing hopes this will encourage more teaching moments with kids about their medication and speaking up when something isn’t right.
“I think other parents should teach their kids exactly what their medication looks like, and if it’s not that, then to say something or just flat out refuse to take it,” said Lansing. “They cannot force you and then obviously, if you refuse to take it, policy should be that they will call the parents, and then you can find out why.”
Superintendent Chambers issued a statement on Dec. 2 about the arrest.
“As Superintendent, I am appalled by the allegations,” said Marcus Chambers. “We will work with authorities to ensure this individual, if guilty, is punished to the fullest extent of the law. 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. Aveanna has been a good healthcare partner over a number of years and acted swiftly in this matter to address the District’s concerns.”