Judge cites parenting skills in giving woman prison

LISBON — A Salem mother was sentenced to nine months in prison for endangering children after she allowed her kindergarten-aged child to be responsible for taking his own prescription medications.

Stephanie J. Hibbert, 31, East Third Street, was sentenced Monday by Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike, who voiced concerns about her judgment in trusting her children to take their own medications.

“We live in a society where when you want to put up a garage, you need a permit,” Pike said after the sentence was issued. “I think maybe we’ve come to a place where maybe you need a permit to be a parent. I don’t think you deserve one.”

Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones had explained that the 6-year-old was not supervised while taking the medications on May 24, 2017, and became unresponsive at school. The child was transported to a local hospital, but Hibbert reportedly objected to the child being treated and he was released, only to end up back at the hospital later.

Hibbert’s version of the story, which she gave to Pike before sentencing, was that she was trying to teach the children some responsibility about how much and when to take their medications. She said the people at the local hospital took him in and monitored his vitals, then told her there was nothing they could do for her son, but wanted to transport him to Akron Children’s Hospital.

“There was nothing they could give him to counteract it, so I took him home,” Hibbert said, noting she is a single mom who does not drive and had another child still at the school. She said she has been a trained STNA for 12 years and was capable of monitoring her son’s vitals herself.

However, Children Services stepped in after the boy was home and he ended up transported to Akron Children’s Hospital anyway.

Jones said she would question the judgment of a mother who would put something as serious as taking medications into a small child’s control. Jones said Hibbert was merely counting the pills out and placing the medications into a pill box, then allowing the children to take them. However, Jones said it was impossible to know what the child took because there were no medications missing from the pill box on that day.

Defense attorney Charley Kidder had been asking for community control, stating Hibbert was put on a case plan through juvenile court and had been through parenting classes. Additionally, she is employed full-time at Freshmark and better able to maintain her life.

She has the children again on most days and Kidder said she has now taken charge of giving the child the medication herself with no additional problems since 2017.