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Boca math teacher placed on leave following drug arrest
By Nancy L. Oth?n Staff Writer Posted March 31 2004
A Spanish River High School math teacher who authorities say was carrying LSD, GHB, Ecstasy and crystal meth in his pocket on his way to board a flight at Palm Beach International Airport has been placed on administrative leave. Lawrence S. Miller, 41, of Boca Raton, was arrested March 19 and released from the Palm Beach County Jail two days later after posting $10,000 bond.
Miller, who teaches algebra and Advanced Placement statistics at the Boca Raton school, is the third Palm Beach County School District employee arrested on drug charges this school year.
An Olympic Heights assistant principal was convicted this month of conspiring to sell the painkiller OxyContin. A teacher's aide at the same school was allowed to enter a drug-intervention program after police found drugs in her home in January.
In Miller's case, a Transportation Security Administration screener found white powder, two small bottles filled with liquid, five brown pills and a glass pipe in Miller's jeans pocket, according to arrest reports. Miller was heading to New York's John F. Kennedy airport on an evening flight on the last day of work for teachers before Spring Break.
Tests showed the powder was methamphetamine, the liquids were GHB and LSD and the pills were Ecstasy, according to reports. GHB is commonly known as a date-rape drug because it can render users unconscious, but it also is frequently used at parties for its intoxicating effects.
He could not be reached for comment, despite an attempt by phone.
Sheriff's Deputy Margaret Picerno said Miller told her he was a teacher at Spanish River.
"He said he was ashamed, that he was dumb enough to be caught going through the checkpoint," Picerno said. "And he was concerned about his job."
School district spokesman Nat Harrington said Miller has been assigned to administrative duties.
"We spend a lot of time and effort and expense doing background checks on our employees," Harrington said. "We hold them to high standards and a code of conduct, which involves keeping a clean record."
Harrington said there was no evidence of any illegal activities involving Miller at the school. Though Miller is the third school employee in five months to be arrested on drug charges, Harrington said, "these are very rare cases" given the 20,000 district employees.
Miller has been with the district since 1990, working as a teacher at Omni Middle School until he transferred to Spanish River in 1997, according to school records. A check of state criminal records showed no arrests in Florida before March 19.
Information about Miller's arrest started circulating among parents at Spanish River on Tuesday.
"I'm really shocked because he didn't seem like he was into anything like that," said Roberta Meyerson, whose daughter is one of Miller's students. "It is surprising me so much because the math department is such a tight department. They're very together."
Karyn Martin, president of the Parent Teacher Student Association, said the topic of Miller's arrest likely will be discussed with Principal Constance Tuman-Rugg at the organization's next meeting April 14.
"It is disheartening to hear," Martin said. "I'm sure it comes as a shock to the staff as well as to the parents.
"I'm sure that the administration and the other teachers are going to pick up and carry on and not let his departure, whether it's temporary or permanent, disrupt anything that's going on in the classroom," Martin said.
Miller is charged with possession of LSD, possession of Ecstasy, trafficking in LSD, possession of GHB, possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia.