A middle school teacher in New Jersey is facing several charges after he was found unresponsive on the floor of his classroom in front of his students, as the result of a fentanyl overdose.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has become the leading cause of death for young Americans since 2019. Nearly 107,000 Americans died as the result of a drug overdose in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The drug is manufactured and distributed mainly by Mexican drug cartels, though the chemicals to make fentanyl are reportedly sourced from China.
#Fentanyl overdose has become the leading cause of death for young Americans since 2019.#China remains the primary source of the precursor chemicals, which are then processed and manufactured into synthetic opioids by Mexican drug cartels. https://t.co/spuchIhbe8
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) January 7, 2023
The problem with fentanyl in the U.S. has gotten so bad that some have called for labeling the drug a “weapon of mass destruction.”
Meanwhile, on November 29, one New Jersey art teacher at Roosevelt Intermediate School decided to bring the dangerous drug into his classroom filled with young children.
A school resource officer arrived in the classroom just after 9:00 a.m. to find 57-year-old art teacher Frank Thompson unconscious and unresponsive, according to the Westfield Police Department.
Before the officer arrived in the second-floor classroom, the students had noticed their teacher in distress, and a school nurse had tried to treat him.
Upon seeing Thompson, the officer noticed signs that the teacher was experiencing a drug overdose, and administered Narcan, which he carries on him. The teacher then began to show signs of improvement. Narcan, or naloxone hydrochloride, is a medication used to reverse or reduce the effects of opioids.
After the incident, investigators discovered fentanyl and drug paraphernalia hidden inside a closet in the classroom.
On Thursday, Thompson was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and endangering the welfare of children.
His classroom was immediately sealed off and sanitized — as even minimal contact with fentanyl can, in some cases, have serious effects — and classes were moved to another location, according to a letter from the school to parents reported by Fox 5. A former teacher was brought in to take over Thompson’s class in order to keep with the continuity of the lessons.
The school’s Superintendent, Dr. Raymond González, released a statement following the 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,” the statement read.
“We are grateful for our strong partnership with the Westfield Police Department,” the statement continued.