CONWAY, N.H. – School officials say they can't remove a teacher who faces drug charges because the arrest involved activity off school grounds.
Sixth-grade teacher Kelly Horrigan was arrested last month after police say they found a small amount of marijuana in a car during a traffic stop. She is out on bail on a misdemeanor marijuana charge.
The school board's drug and alcohol policy states that any incidents that take place outside school grounds or away from school activities are separate and off limits from a teacher's or administrator's professional status.
School Board Chair Sheryl Kovalik said she'd like to talk about which sorts of offenses should be considered off limits and which should be considered within the realm of school policy.
Horrigan has remained in her classroom at John Fuller Elementary School. Her duties include teaching the DARE anti-drug and alcohol class.
Curtis Finney, president of the Conway Education Association, said under school policy, Horrigan can't be removed because of the arrest.
"There's a policy for both students and employees, and the drug and alcohol abuse policy very clearly states that an infraction has to be on school grounds, the parking lot, playground, or school related activity" to be an actionable offense.
As it stands, under the drug and alcohol policy, Kovalik said the school board does not police teachers or punish them for their actions after they leave the premises.
"We have limited control over what happens off school grounds. We do background checks on all employees, but this (crime Horrigan is accused of) qualifies as a misdemeanor, and those don't come up on background checks," she said.
"The next question is, should we have random drug testing for all teachers?" she said. "We do it for busdrivers. We're going to have a conversation."
Kelley Murphy, the president of the Conway Parent Teacher Association as well as a newly elected school board member, said different people have had different reactions.
"Some people have said what people do on their own time is their own business, but there are others who say teachers are role models and that they should be role models 24-hours-a-day," Murphy said.