Dawn Riso will always remember the last words her daughter Gina said to her.
"The last thing she said to me was 'I love you,'" said Dawn. "I said, 'I love you too Gina.'"
In December of 2009, Dawn received a call from a local hospital, telling her that Gina had died from possible drug use.
“My husband and I looked at each other and said there was no way she would do something like that to herself,” said the Northampton County woman.
Gina, a 24-year-old biology teacher at Bangor Area High School who had also been an honor student and athlete, died of a heroin overdose, according to investigators. Officials say she was at the apartment of the high school’s part-time wrestling coach, Brad Washburn, who is now in jail for heroin possession. One of Washburn’s wrestlers, 19-year-old Richard Clark, also testified he did drugs with the coach. Clark committed suicide in December of 2010.
Since then, Dawn Riso has campaigned full time for a cause that is close to her heart.
“Mandatory, random drug and alcohol testing on all Pennsylvania school personnel,” she said. “Eventually I’d love to see it become federal law.”
On Monday, the Bangor School District approved a first reading on a bill that would require members of the Bangor’s teacher union to undergo mandatory drug testing. The proposal has drawn a mixed reaction.
“If you’re going to teach our children, you should also have to be drug tested,” said one parent.
“I’m still iffy, I’m on the fence about that,” said another.
The plan still needs final approval from the teacher’s union during contract negotiations which take place during the summer. For Dawn, her campaign for the bill boils down to one thing: justice.
“It’s giving me justice, and Richard justice and Gina justice,” she said. “These kids did not deserve what they got.”