New Jersey middle school teacher arrested after allegedly overdosing on fentanyl in front of students

New Jersey middle school teacher arrested after allegedly overdosing on fentanyl in front of students

A middle school teacher in New Jersey has been arrested after police claim he overdosed on fentanyl in front of his students in November. According to the Westfield Police Department, the incident occurred just after 9 a.m. EST on Nov. 29, when another staff member at Roosevelt Intermediate School in Westfield reported an unconscious teacher located inside a classroom on the second floor of the facility.

Westfield Police Chief Christopher Battiloro said in a statement published on Friday that the teacher, Frank Thompson, was originally “observed in distress” by students before an administration sent the school resource officer, Fortunato Riga, to the classroom. Thompson was found “unconscious and unresponsive” on the floor, being actively treated by the school nurse, according to Riga, who subsequently reported the incident to police.

Riga told police that he observed Thompson was showing indications of an opioid overdose and gave him the prescription naxolone hydrochloride, often known as Narcan, which is intended to reverse symptoms. Thompson started “showing marked signs of improvement” after receiving the drug, according to authorities.

According to his teaching profile on the Roosevelt Intermediate School website, Thompson, 57, teaches 6th and 7th grade visual art and 8th grade arts and crafts.

During a police probe after the incident last autumn, investigators claim they uncovered “a quantity of a suspected controlled substance” as well as drug paraphernalia in Thompson’s classroom closet, according to Battiloro’s declaration on Friday.

Thompson was charged with having a controlled dangerous substance, presumably fentanyl, having drug paraphernalia, and endangering the welfare of minors. According to the police chief, the first and final offences stated are third-degree offences, while the second is a disorderly person infraction. Thompson was issued with a complaint summons and is due in court on February 1.

The Westfield school district declined to comment on the classroom 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,” said Superintendent Dr. Raymond González in a statement. “We are grateful for our strong partnership with the Westfield Police Department.”

Battiloro said in a separate statement released alongside the Westfield Police Department’s announcement on Friday that the department “continues to prioritise its ongoing partnership with the Westfield Public School System to ensure it has the safety and security resources it needs on a daily basis.”

“In this case, the swift actions of Officer Riga, who is on-site at Roosevelt Intermediate each school day, proved instrumental in maintaining the safety of the students and administering potentially life-saving measures to Mr. Thompson,” the statement continued.

According to Westfield Police, all officers, even school resource officers like Riga, are given Narcan and trained to administer it in cases when someone looks to be suffering from a drug overdose. According to the agency, police will need to give the medicine 13 times in 2022.

The Drug Enforcement Administration reported in 2022 that it confiscated more than 379 million doses of fentanyl, enough to kill every American. Last year, the agency collected almost 50 million fentanyl-laced prescription tablets and over 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder, according to a report released this week.

»New Jersey middle school teacher arrested after allegedly overdosing on fentanyl in front of students«

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