Bel Air Elementary School Principal Mike Doolittle said he was shocked after learning a kindergarten teacher at his school was arrested on drug charges.
James and Roslyn McIntyre, both 49, were arrested Tuesday night after a Richmond County sheriff's deputy investigating a possible break-in at their Hephzibah home found cocaine and marijuana, authorities said. Mrs. McIntyre has been a kindergarten teacher at Bel Air since 1988.
"She's a good teacher and has had a real good year," said Doolittle, who learned about the incident when he was called by an Augusta Chronicle reporter Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, a substitute teacher was called in to take over her class of 20 kindergartners.
"Right now we've got a substitute coming into the class until things are settled and we know what the outcome will be," said Doolittle.
A faculty meeting was held Wednesday morning to inform the other teachers of what had happened.
"Some of them had heard stuff of the news and some had not heard anything at all," Doolittle said. "I just wanted to make sure they knew what was going on, to make them aware that they needed to help wherever they can. We have a very caring and excellent staff here."
Doolittle said he was drafting a note to send home to parents to inform them about Mrs. McIntyre's arrest and to let them know of the school's plans to hire a long-term substitute until the matter is resolved.
Doolittle said he did not talk to the students about it.
"I don't think kindergarten children can understand all of that," he said.
School officials said Wednesday afternoon that they had not talked to Mrs. McIntyre.
"I believe she's still incarcerated but I'm sure she will be posting bond at some point and we will be hearing from her," said Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price.
The state of her employment with the school system is uncertain at this time.
"In a case like this when you've got a charge of criminal conduct, as long as that charge stands, we would probably place that person on administrative leave pending an outcome of the investigation and the process of adjudicating that charge," Price said.
Asking Mrs. McIntyre to submit to a drug test would be an option the school system would have, Price said.
"If you've got cause to think this person is displaying unusual behavior then we can require drug testing," Price said. "There has to be cause for suspicion."
This is the second time this year a Columbia County teacher has been arrested on drug charges.
In October, Evans High School English teacher Joy Michelle Clubb of North Augusta resigned after being charged with trying to unlawfully obtain prescription drugs from a North Augusta pharmacy.
"A school system is just a mirror of a larger society," Price said. "It's very regrettable and disappointing when employees who are charged to be role models for students and set examples are charged or convicted for criminal wrong-doing - particularly these kinds of things when we're about anti-drugs, say no to drugs and all of our educational programs are geared to the hazards associated with this kind of lifestyle. For us to be involved certainly sends a bad message. The nature of our position exacerbates the problem when our employees are connected to this type of activity.
"But we've got 2,500 employes and it would be naive to think this kind of thing isn't going to occur from time to time. The fact that it is few and far between is somewhat reassuring."
Police said both and Mrs. McIntyre were expected to face felony drug possession charges.
The McIntyres arrest occurred after a sheriff's deputy went to their home in the 3700 block of Pinnacle Place Drive Tuesday to investigate a possible burglary. The officer found a door had been kicked in and went inside for safety reasons, police said. Investigators said the deputy found cocaine and marijuana inside and then called for backup from narcotics officers.
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