Howard teacher said to have shown no signs of addiction Apparent drug overdose raises questions among parents

January 23, 1998|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Caitlin Francke and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this article.

A North Laurel elementary school teacher who suffered an rTC apparent drug overdose on campus is well-liked by students and parents, and Howard County school officials said yesterday he never showed any signs of addiction.

But some parents are questioning why the school system does not require prospective teachers to undergo drug testing and are upset that students may have been exposed to someone using drugs.

"My first reaction was I felt really sorry for him, but my next feeling was anger," said Denise Wesolowski, who has two children at the school. "I mean, bringing this stuff into the school? Some of the kids could have gotten hold of it."

The Laurel Woods Elementary teacher, Garrett M. Bradley, 28, was discovered unconscious last week in a school bathroom with drug paraphernalia and a substance police believe to be heroin, police said. Howard County school officials disclosed the incident Wednesday.

Relatives and friends of Bradley, a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher, are ashamed of and saddened by his actions but are supporting him as he begins recovery in an Anne Arundel County treatment center, a family member said yesterday.

"I think he is a wonderful teacher, but he has a horrible disease," said the family member, who asked not to be named.

Howard County school officials said they will await the results of a police investigation before they decide whether Bradley will return to the classroom.

After a hearing with School Superintendent Michael E. Hickey, Bradley might be suspended or fired, said Patti Caplan, a Howard school spokeswoman.

The day after the Jan. 14 incident, police issued a warrant for Bradley's arrest on charges of misdemeanor drug possession and drug paraphernalia possession. He was expected to surrender to police late last night. If convicted, he faces up to four years in jail and a fine up to $25,000.

Parents of Laurel Woods Elementary students learned of the incident in a letter sent home with students Wednesday night. Although Bradley is popular among students and staff, some said they were shocked and furious.

Rehana Manejwala, whose 4-year-old daughter is in Bradley's pre-kindergarten class, said, "Of course there are concerns for safety. It's worrying."

Some parents criticized Howard school system policies -- such as the lack of drug testing of prospective teachers -- for not having prevented the incident.

Teachers might undergo a drug test if there is "reasonable suspicion" of drug use, but teachers are not routinely tested before or during employment, according to Howard school policy.

Asked if there had been any indication of Bradley's substance abuse problem, Principal Rosanne C. Wilson said, "Of course not."

Pub Date: 1/23/98

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