A 12-year-old girl was arrested on a misdemeanor charge Friday after she discharged pepper spray in a crowded hallway at McLane Middle School, authorities said.
More than 80 students and several teachers were affected by the chemical, which was sprayed at 2:30 p.m. during a class change.
“We had a triage situation,” Hillsborough School District spokesman Steve Hegarty said.
School nurses treated students while administrators called parents to let them know what happened at school, 306 N. Knights Ave., he said.
Thirty-seven people were taken to Brandon Regional Hospital.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials said three patients with respiratory conditions such as asthma needed advanced life support treatment. Fourteen were given basic life support and another 20 students were taken from the school at 306 N. Knights Ave. to the hospital.
All were treated and released from the hospital Friday night, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.
Hegarty said pepper spray doesn’t have any long-term effects.
“But the short-term effects are terrible—burning eyes, coughing,” he said.
Franklin Oliver, principal of McLane Middle School, said in a recorded message sent by phone to the homes of school families and staff about 6 p.m.:
“This afternoon one of our students sprayed some pepper spray into a crowded hallway.”
“Approximately 84 students and some staff members experienced burning eyes and coughing. We sent some students to the hospital to get them checked out.”
“We do not expect any lasting effects but it was quite painful for many of students and quite disruptive. We will take the appropriate disciplinary action against the student who sprayed the pepper spray. We do not consider this a prank. We will take appropriate action.”
The girl suspected of discharging the substance was taken into custody on a misdemeanor charge of disruption of school function. Authorities did not release her name because she is a minor and the offense was not a felony.
The girl was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center, where she was released to a parent.