Case against counselor dropped

Howard High guidance worker, veteran teacher was charged with having crack cocaine

November 30, 2007|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,Sun reporter

Howard County prosecutors have dropped charges against Alan Silberman, a former Howard High School guidance counselor arrested in May for possession of crack cocaine.

Insufficient evidence and the completion by Silberman of a drug evaluation led to the decision, the Howard County state's attorney's office said yesterday. Silberman, 63, of Owings Mills, a 35-year veteran of the school system, was arrested after police said they found cocaine and crack cocaine in his vehicle parked at the school.

Silberman's age, lack of a criminal record and agreement to submit to an evaluation contributed to the decision not to prosecute the case, said Brendan Clary, District Court chief in the Howard County prosecutor's office. The charges were dropped Nov. 13.

Silberman's attorney, Thomas Morrow of Towson, said, "He's basically happy that this is over, and he wants to get on with his life."

After he was charged, Silberman was placed on administrative leave by the school system. He retired July 1.

He was the fourth Howard County high school teacher arrested this year. The other three arrests involved allegations of improper sexual conduct.

Police said that acting on a tip, they took a dog to the Howard High parking lot to check Silberman's vehicle. The dog indicated the presence of drugs, police said.

Clary said investigators found a "trace amount" -- less than 0.1 grams of cocaine and crack cocaine -- in Silberman's car.

"The obvious question was what evidence was there," Morrow said. "I'm quite confident that this was a major basis on which the state did not move forward."

Silberman did not know how the drugs got into his vehicle, Morrow said.

"One of the theories of the defense was that [drugs were] placed there, planted there," Morrow said.

"We could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had knowledge and control of the prohibited item," Clary said. "We're not suggesting in any way that the drugs were planted."

Silberman did not return a message left at his home phone number seeking comment.

He began his career in Howard County as a math and science teacher at Wilde Lake Middle School in 1970. In 1975, he became a guidance counselor at Harper's Choice Middle School after receiving a master's degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Maryland.

He taught overseas from 1985 to 1987, then returned to Harper's Choice Middle. He was hired in 1992 by Howard High, where he was senior counselor for six graduating classes.

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