Teacher arrested on drug charges

Ex-basketball player is Towson University scoring leader

February 10, 1999|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

A Walbrook High School teacher who graduated from the school and went on to become Towson University's all-time basketball scoring leader is facing drug charges after 60 grams of crack cocaine were found in his apartment, police said yesterday.

Devin Lemuel Boyd, 28, was placed on administrative leave after school officials learned of his arrest in Catonsville during the weekend. School officials said yesterday that they found no evidence that the popular special-education teacher, who was hired in September, had been involved in drug activity at the West Baltimore school.

"We would have heard something," said Schools Police Chief Leonard Hamm. "There is no indication that Devin was doing anything like that in school."

Colleagues and students were saddened by the news.

"He graduated from here -- we liked him, we thought a lot of him," said Greg Matthews, vice principal of Walbrook, which is an independent public school operated jointly by a board made up of city police and fire officials and members of the community.

"The kids liked him," Matthews said. "They will be devastated."

The weekend arrest was one of three brushes with the law Boyd has had.

On Feb. 3, he was charged in an Anne Arundel County warrant with a third-degree sex offense involving a 15-year-old foster child in his brother's care. Records also show an outstanding warrant stemming from a 1994 sexual assault case in which Boyd failed to appear in court.

School officials were unaware of Boyd's criminal charges, but said his history at Walbrook and his college basketball career made him a good fit for the high school.

"I would imagine that was part of the attraction to get him to come back, as a role model of sorts," Hamm said.

After a spectacular senior year on the basketball court at Walbrook, where he was first-team All-Metro for two years, Boyd accepted a scholarship at what was then Towson State University. He majored in mass communications and graduated in 1993.

At Towson, he was an honorable mention All-America and an outstanding point guard whose 2,000 points and 438 assists are career records for the school.

Terry Truax, who coached him in college, said he saw no indication of substance abuse during Boyd's five years at Towson.

"This really hurts; I'm just devastated," Truax said.

Towson played in two NCAA tournaments during Boyd's career with the Tigers, and his senior year was particularly memorable, Truax recalled.

"All five starters were Baltimore kids -- mostly inner-city kids," he said.

Truax, who coached at Towson from 1983 to 1997, remembered Boyd as an unselfish, focused player whose professional hopes were dashed after he fractured an elbow in the first game of the 1991-1992 season.

Boyd was redshirted for the rest of the season, and when he returned for a fifth year of play he had gained a lot of weight.

"It really dashed all NBA hopes, or playing in Europe," Truax said.

Despite that, Boyd got back in shape and had a good year, Truax said -- and also had two extra semesters to earn his degree.

"He really grew, he matured a lot at Towson," Truax said, who recalled Boyd occasionally playing good-natured pranks on his teammates.

Boyd grew up on Fulton Avenue, he said.

"That's a pretty well-known drug hangout," he said. "But there was no indication he was involved in substance abuse" at Towson.

County police said a crack user told them Boyd was her supplier and led them to the former basketball star.

His arrest was Saturday but was not made public immediately by county police because it was part of a larger drug investigation in Catonsville.

Records show that Wilkens Precinct detectives listened as the user called Boyd and arranged to buy $900 worth of crack cocaine in a Catonsville shopping center parking lot.

When Boyd arrived, police said, a marked car approached with its lights on. Boyd did not stop, but drove away.

Police followed the car and arrested him, but found no drugs in the vehicle. Retracing the route, they found packets of crack cocaine, records show.

A search warrant was issued for Boyd's home in Catonsville. Police said they recovered 60 grams of crack, a scale and other drug paraphernalia.

Boyd was charged with possession and possession with intent to distribute, and was released on bail Sunday.

Boyd, who had worked as a teacher's assistant at Walbrook from 1996 to 1998, was one of hundreds of special education teachers recently hired without a teaching certificate.

Dealing with a teacher shortage that has swept the nation, the city has hired 2,000 teachers in the past year and a half, about 60 percent of them not certified.

City school officials are awaiting the results of a criminal background check on Boyd that they had requested in September.

An investigation by the state's Criminal Justice Information System would have turned up the 1994 outstanding warrant. Boyd is among hundreds of school employees with such checks pending, officials said.

Hamm, the schools police chief, said yesterday he is concerned that some employees hired in the past year might have criminal records that the school system does not know about.

The importance of background checks was emphasized at the city school board meeting last night by chief executive officer Robert Booker, who said he would find money to make such checks more quickly.

"We definitely need background checks before people get into the classrooms," Booker said. "It is a critical issue."

Sun staff writers Liz Bowie, Stephen Henderson, Lem Satterfield and Andrea F. Siegel and staff researcher Bobby Schrott contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 2/10/99

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