A decal popular among drug users, which is backed with LSD and sports the images of cartoon characters, stars and other decorations that attract children, is the object of warnings issued by several local schools.

In the past few weeks school authorities have asked parents to monitor their children's selection of postage-stamp-size stickems and play tattoos because they might be laced with LSD, a hallucinogenic drug. Dorothy Murden of the Alexandria City public school system sent a warning letter to principals Oct. 1. She said she acted after a school nurse gave her a copy of a warning letter from the Rev. Thomas C. McCulley, director of the Christian Center School in Alexandria.

"I checked it out with the drug abuse people who said, 'Yes, it is available, but we haven't seen any in the Washington area,' " said Murden, director of guidance and substance abuse for the Alexandria schools.

McCulley's warning was one of the first issued in the Washington area, but he said subsequent letters failed to note that it was only a precaution. "My first paragraph said this may or may not be true. Then the Tylenol thing came along and it got out of hand. Without the caveat, it has prompted a lot of fear," said McCulley, who distributed the letter to the parents of his school's 200 students.

"I thought the warning was more in the line of 'Don't ever get into a car with strangers,' or 'Don't take anything from strangers,' " said Murden, who received about 50 calls from across the country after her letter became public. "My thought is even if one child would get hurt because we didn't have a warning, that would be tragic."

But "the 'what if' became the fact," because LSD-laced decals and tattoos really exist, said Larry Golden, a staff assistant with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. He first saw the warnings a year ago in New England. The tattoos, which are called blotter or designer acid, resemble the paper tabs with cartoon characters or figures that children buy.

"Blotter acid comes on sheets of paper, like postage stamps, perforated like stamps, with a character or design," he said. Unlike the children's decals, each drug-laced tattoo "is divided into quarters, and each one contains a hit of the drug . They are decorated with Disney characters -- Mickey, as the wizard's assistant, Goofy. Someone saw it and said, 'What if the kids picked it up?' "

Some of the warning letters said the decals are "impregnated with LSD and can be removed from the paper to be placed in the mouth. Absorption can also occur through the skin by simply handling the paper or tattoo." Among those who have passed on the warning, after double-checking the McCulley letter's authenticity, are Temple Sinai Religious School, Little Flower parochial school and Georgetown Day School.

"I felt nausea. It's scary that kids can't put anything into their mouths," said Marlene Solomon, director of the Temple Sinai school. "This is the first time we had to send a letter on this kind of thing. I send a lice letter periodically and I never felt good about that, but now my lice letter looks terrific."