A New Jersey middle school teacher was charged on Thursday after allegedly overdosing in a classroom in November.
The Westfield, New Jersey, police chief announced the charges on Friday, stating that the art teacher, Frank Thompson, 57, “has been charged with drug-related crimes and offenses, as well as endangering the welfare of children.”
“While the Westfield Public School District cannot comment on personnel matters which are confidential, we will maintain a continued focus on student and staff safety and on preserving the integrity of the classroom learning environment,” Superintendent Dr. Raymond González said. “We are grateful for our strong partnership with the Westfield Police Department.”
On the morning of November 29, Roosevelt Intermediate School’s resource officer called the police over “an unconscious teacher” in one of the classrooms. Thompson was “unconscious and unresponsive on the classroom floor.” Students reportedly found Thompson, and a school nurse was providing treatment to him.
The resource officer noticed that Thompson appeared to be experiencing a drug overdose and he gave him Naloxone Hydrochloride, to which Thompson responded well. An investigation ensued, and “suspected controlled dangerous substance and various items of drug paraphernalia” were discovered inside a closet within the classroom.
Westfield Police officers gave Naloxone Hydrochloride to people suspected of overdosing on drugs 13 times last year.
Thompson was charged with “Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (fentanyl),” as well as Possession of Drug Paraphernalia,” and “Endangering Welfare of Children.”
“The Westfield Police Department continues to prioritize its ongoing partnership with the Westfield Public School System to ensure it has the safety and security resources it needs on a daily basis,” Chief Christopher Battiloro said. “In this case, the swift actions of Officer Riga, who is on-site at Roosevelt Intermediate each school day, proved instrumental in maintaining the safety of the students and administering potentially life-saving measures to Mr. Thompson.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Rocky Mountain Division announced Monday that it brought in more than 5.8 million possibly fatal fentanyl doses last year.
The DEA reportedly also noted last month that it had seized more than 50.6 million fentanyl pills and over 10,000 pounds of powdered fentanyl, which would be enough to kill all Americans.
Fentanyl has been smuggled across the southern border between the United States and Mexico, creating dangerous and lethal situations for Americans around the country.
New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan told the New York Post that “[t]he effect of this drug and the loss that people have suffered because of fentanyl is tremendous and it’s really widespread.”