Teacher ODs in Front of Class…Are Your Kids Next?

vchal / shutterstock.com
vchal / shutterstock.com

Nobody who has ever stood in front of a class says teaching is easy. It’s a largely thankless job, with long hours, horribly raised kids, and parents who think they know everything despite being clueless about education. Unless your union offers a plan for a few checks during the summer by trimming your in-session checks, you have months of unpaid time during the hottest part of the year.

Suffice it to say it’s a stressful occupation, and while they are becoming harder to find, many who choose to do so are frequently finding themselves resorting to something for relief.

Back in the day, many teachers smoked cigarettes, and while they were banned from the classroom, the teachers’ lounge almost always had a thick cloud overhead. Then, they started having to go to their cars to smoke. Many also developed a great relationship with the bottle as a way to deal with the stress. When they caught kids with drugs, many just took them away to keep the kid safe, or they called the cops. All of that is gone now.

Instead, now we have teachers bringing drugs into school.

Frank Thompson, 57, was an art teacher at Roosevelt Intermediate School in Westfield, NJ. Back in November 2022, Thompson was found unconscious and unresponsive by a school resource officer before 9 am. Before the officer’s arrival, students noticed he had been acting funny, and the school nurse was summoned to come to his aid.

Being trained on and carrying Narcan following Westfield PD policy, the officer realized the signs of a drug overdose and administered the drug, ultimately saving his life. While he showed signs of improvement, the ambulance naturally took him away. Upon a thorough search of his room, they discovered fentanyl and pieces of drug paraphernalia in his room.

The room was immediately sealed off and sanitized as classes were moved to another location according to a letter sent to parents. Rather than let the kids suffer any further from this, the district brought in a former teacher to continue the lessons.

Superintendent Dr. Raymond González provided a statement about the incident. “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…We are grateful for our strong partnership with the Westfield Police Department.”

While the superintendent is grateful for that relationship, they need to be wondering just how this was allowed to happen. Most schools that have resource officers like this also have a strict check for getting hired by the school. They also often bring in drug dogs to sniff the school out and canvas the area.

Even more to the point, who was checking in on this teacher? A problem like fentanyl doesn’t just spring up over a weekend. This man did not just go from an average art teacher to becoming so assured in his fentanyl use that he brought it into school on Monday. Problems like these build up, and somebody should have noticed.

For the district, the questions of how this happened, and how nobody noticed are ones that likely have little to no answer. For the parents of this school district, the question now becomes their child’s safety. If fentanyl is in their school, and if teachers feel comfortable using it around students, then how long has this been going on?

Likely, the school will be administering drug tests to all employees, and naturally offering counseling support to the kids in the teacher’s class that day, as well as other students. For those who witnessed it, they’ll need real help to get through it. Watching someone OD is an experience you’ll never forget, no matter how hard you try.