On Wednesday, Nov. 22, Ms. Samantha Cox, English, was arrested pending charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The issue was brought to the attention of the school when student witnesses showed a now viral video to school officials that allegedly showed Ms. Cox in her classroom “‘snorting’ a line of an illegal substance,” according to court documents.
On Friday, charges were filed by the Lake County Prosecutor for possession of cocaine, a level 6 felony, and possession of a paraphernalia, a class C misdemeanor. Ms. Cox has been released on $1,000 bond. A Wednesday press release from the St. John Police Department praises students who brought the issue to the attention of the school.
Ms. Cox’s students were waiting outside of the classroom when the incident occurred. For Anthony Joy (11) and other students, the arrest was a shock.
“[Students] didn’t really know who to go to [or] what to say. I never really had any experience with anything like that. It’s kind of crazy. I liked her alot. She was always really nice and I would have never guessed that she would do anything like [that]. I feel really bad for her. I hope she gets the help she needs,” Joy said.
Dr. Larry Veracco, Superintendent, had similar comments to the students and the St. John Police Department in an interview Tuesday.
“It’s a sad situation for us and we want our students to have the best substance-free school we can have. Students often know more than the adults in the building, so it’s admirable to know that we have students who want their place to be safe for all of us.” Dr. Veracco said. “It’s unfortunate that it was one of our adults involved, but anytime a student can help us keep a situation from getting worse, we appreciate it. In the background, we have concern for our employee [and] that she gets well.”
Dr. Veracco mentioned the possibility of staff drug testing in the future. According to Dr. Veracco, Lake Central would be the first school in the area to possibly implement such a program.
“I suspect that in the near future our school board will visit the idea of random staff testing, similar to random student athlete and driver testing. Of course, some people would think [staff drug testing] is too intrusive, just like some of our student athletes find it intrusive. On the other hand, part of me thinks that anything we can do to help people, not just kids, see [drug testing] as a deterrent, maybe there’s some merit to that,” Dr. Veracco said.
Mrs. Koula Amanatidis-Radoicic, a former teacher from Kahler Middle School, will teach Ms. Cox’s classes until the end of the semester.
Ms. Cox is currently on paid administrative leave from the school. Indiana Code 20-28-7.5 stipulates grounds and procedures for canceling a teacher’s contract. A decision to cancel a teacher’s contract is in the jurisdiction of the school’s governing body, the school board.
“The reason you put somebody on paid leave until you make a final decision is because you really need to look at this section of the code and figure out which piece best applies to it.” Dr. Veracco said. “If what someone does in your opinion as the superintendent is something [that] violates the general accepted standard of behavior in your community, you can use the ‘other good and just cause [clause in Indiana Code 20-28-7.5]’. In the end, it’s still just a recommendation of the superintendent to the governing body and a majority of those people have to vote and take action.”
School boards can call emergency sessions of the board or special meetings if necessary. According to an email from Dr. Janice Malchow, School Board President, “Nothing is planned at this time.” The next school board meeting is scheduled to take place Monday, Dec. 11.
“We are, at this point, getting close to concluding our investigation. When we get our hands back on what the staff member said with the full report with the police, which may or may not be different than what she told us, we come up with a recommendation [to] the school board. If action’s going to be taken, it will be taken on Dec. 11,” Dr. Veracco said.