Most teachers advise students against using drugs, but Fairfax County police say a Chantilly High teacher did something different entirely: He allegedly gave an illegal substance to a student. As a result, special-education teacher Thomas Newlun was arrested and charged.
According to police, the incident occurred last Friday, March 17, around 11 a.m., at the school. They say Newlun, 53, of 5897 Moore Road in Marshall, Va., reportedly gave a small amount of marijuana to a 17-year-old boy in a school hallway after class.
Police say the student brought the drugs to a school security officer and police were called to investigate. Early Monday morning, March 20, around 1 a.m., Fauquier County Sheriff's deputies arrested Newlun in Fauquier County.
He was charged with distribution of marijuana on school property, distribution of marijuana to a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was taken to the Fauquier County Adult Detention Center and released on bond. A Fairfax County court date has not yet been set for him.
Paul Regnier, Fairfax County school system spokesman, said Newlun was placed on unpaid administrative leave as of Monday. Since 1989, Newlun has spent all but one year working for this school system. He was a special-education teacher at Westfield High from 2000-2002, and has been at Chantilly since September 2002.
In a letter sent to parents on Monday, Chantilly Principal Jim Kacur said he'd learned of the teacher's arrest that morning. He also said Chantilly High's School Resource Officer, as a member of the county police department, is involved in the incident's investigation. Furthermore, said Kacur, "A Fairfax County Public Schools investigation is ongoing."
He told parents the school knows they're concerned for their children's safety. "Please remind your child that he or she should never take any kind of drug and should always report suspicious activity to a trusted adult," wrote the principal. "Your cooperation and your positive reinforcement of both the school's and your expectations help to make our efforts effective."
Kacur promised to keep parents informed, "as appropriate." Meanwhile, he said, classes at Chantilly are progressing normally while police conduct their investigation. Added Kacur: "I want to commend our students and staff for handling this inconvenience calmly and wish to thank you and our community for all your continued support."
Carol Hoffman, coordinator of the Chantilly Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free youth, praised the teen-age boy's actions. "It sounds like a student did the right thing and our message is working. The Community Coalition is here to support a safe and drug-free community for all our children and their families."
She didn't want to comment on Newlun's arrest, since she had no firsthand information about it, herself. However, said Hoffman, "I'm sorry to hear about this incident. It's unfortunate [that] something like this has happened."