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US high school teacher found to be possessing cannabis on school grounds

In Germantown, police officers were called to Kennedy Middle School when a teacher was found to be in possession of cannabis. Photo: FOX6 Milwaukee
In Germantown, police officers were called to Kennedy Middle School when a teacher was found to be in possession of cannabis. Photo: FOX6 Milwaukee

In the United States, Cynthia Schwister, a 60-year-old teacher at Kennedy Middle School in Germantown, Maryland, has been put on administrative leave after being discovered to be possessing cannabis on school grounds. A pupil found the drug in her purse on Thursday February 1. The purse was in a room where children can wash their hands.

There was only a small quantity of cannabis – what is generally referred to as a “one-hitter.” Police were called at around 13:00. Schwister taught reading and language arts to seventh-grade children, which would make them 12 or 13 years old, the equivalent of Year Eight in England and Wales and First Year in Scotland – high school age.

Hey, isn’t that an illegal search?

Germantown police chief Peter Hoell conceded that if someone found something while searching the possessions of another sans permission – an illegal search – that was “obviously an issue that has to be dealt with.” The teacher, who had no prior criminal history, was arrested and, rather than being charged with a criminal offence, given “tickets” – municipal citations – for possessing cannabis and possessing drug paraphernalia. Hoell detailed that she was “very co-operative and took responsibility.” No pupil was placed in jeopardy during the episode.

A boilerplate statement

Jeff Holmes, Germantown’s school district superintendent, left parents a voicemail stating: “… investigates this situation … blah blah blah … drug-free schools policy … rhubarb rhubarb … will not tolerate any person bringing drugs to our school … yadda yadda yadda … intoxicated at school … unfortunate situation.”

SHOCKED AND HORRIFIED

Parents were SHOCKED AND HORRIFIED. One, John Nieskes, who has an eighth-grade child at the school, sounded off: “We hold our students very accountable for things like this. When we see it in a classroom by a leader or teacher, it’s kind of shocking.”

Kennedy Middle School’s sordid history of drugs

This isn’t the first time drugs have brought Kennedy Middle School into the news. In 2015, Tabatha Sparks Rowe, a 45-year-old cafeteria worker at the school, was fired after admitting to not only possessing cannabis but passing cannabis, alcohol and drug paraphernalia to a pupil outside of school.

Kennedy Middle School has 902 overwhelmingly white (82 percent) pupils and is rated above average in the state.

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