Justice for Melanie: Year after teen's fentanyl death, mother pushing for law protecting others

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Thursday, September 14, 2023
1 year after fentanyl death at Hollywood school, mom pushes for reform
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The mother of a student who fatally overdosed on fentanyl at a Hollywood school is pushing for California legislation to prevent similar deaths.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A year after her daughter died from a fentanyl overdose at a high school in Hollywood, Elena Perez is continuing her fight to prevent similar deaths.

Perez stood outside Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters Wednesday touting the battle for justice for her daughter, Melanie Ramos.

That battle is being fought in Sacramento, where proposed legislation known as Melanie's Law remains pending.

Melanie was a student at Bernstein High School in Hollywood. She was found inside a school bathroom some eight hours after her mother received a call that her 15- year-old daughter was missing from school.

Melanie's stepfather found her in the bathroom unconscious. Paramedics pronounced her dead. Cause of death: a fentanyl overdose.

Two teens were arrested in connection to her death.

READ MORE | 2 teen boys arrested after girl, 15, fatally overdoses at high school campus in Hollywood, LAPD says

Melanie's mother doesn't want her daughter's death to be another statistic.

If approved, Melanie's Law would require the state to establish fentanyl education in schools, to promote public education with outreach aimed at staff and pupils.

According to the California Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, the number of fentanyl deaths among teens has risen over the last decade, peaking in 2020 at 250. It's dipped slightly since then but still remains well above the number from just five years ago.

LAPD chief says fentanyl has become top threat to teens

Days after Melanie's death, LAUSD started providing Narcan at all of its campuses.

Melanie's family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against LAUSD.

Family attorney Luis Carrillo has this message to parents: "I urge all parents to be vigilant and to complain to administrators if something goes wrong in the schools if they don't protect the children."

Melanie's Law is currently going through the amendment process in the state Legislature. If approved with amendments, it would move to the governor's desk for his consideration.