Teacher Drug Arrests In Houston Stir Criticism


More than a dozen Houston school district employees are getting a lesson in the zero-tolerance policies typically applied to students as they await court hearings on drug charges that could land them in jail, reports the city’s Chronicle. While most of the teachers are charged with possessing pot in their cars at school, a few face time behind bars after police said they found unauthorized prescription drugs in their vehicles. Some of the charges, particularly those involving prescription pills, are drawing criticism from lawyers, parents and teachers who say the Houston Independent School District and the Harris County District Attorney's Office need a lesson in discretion.

Tom Shahriari, an attorney-turned-HISD elementary school teacher, called the district's ongoing drug searches “a very wide and very destructive dragnet.” In December, Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra ordered his police department to take drug-sniffing dogs to every employee parking lot. His order for the widespread sweep came after anonymous tips to HISD police led to drug arrests of 15 employees – two of them twice – from eight different campuses. “I don't have a problem with using the drug dogs,” said Shahriari, a fifth-grade teacher at Roberts Elementary. “What I have a problem with is using the zero-tolerance laws to make it zero compassion and zero common sense.”

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