New Jersey school teacher face charges after allegedly overdosing on fentanyl in front of students

New Jersey middle school classroom
New Jersey middle school classroom

According to the Westfield Police Department, an art teacher faces multiple drug charges after allegedly overdosing on fentanyl in a classroom. On Jan. 5, 57-year-old Frank Thompson was charged with possession of fentanyl, possession of drug paraphernalia and endangering the welfare of children.

This incident happened on Nov. 29, 2022 after School Resource Officer Fortunato Riga responded to a nurse treating the then-unconscious teacher in front of the students in a classroom on the second floor of Roosevelt Intermediate School in Westfield, N.J. 

According to police, Riga said he noticed Thompson showing signs of an opioid overdose and administered Narcan, a medication naloxone hydrochloride that is used to reverse symptoms. After being treated, Thompson began “showing marked signs of improvement.”

Westfield Police Chief Christopher Battiloro said in a statement released on Friday( Jan. 6) that Thompson was initially “observed in distress” by students before an administrator called Riga to the classroom. Riga then reported the situation to police, calling Thompson “unconscious and unresponsive” on the floor, with the school nurse actively treating him.

“In this case, the swift actions of Officer Riga, who is on-site at Roosevelt Intermediate each school day, proved instrumental in maintaining the safety of the students and administering potentially life-saving measures to Mr. Thompson,” said the police chief. 

The release also said that police found “a quantity of a suspected controlled substance” as well as drug paraphernalia in his classroom closet during an investigation following the incident. The Westfield school district said it could not comment directly on what took place in the classroom.

“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,” said Superintendent Dr. Raymond González in a statement. “We are grateful for our strong partnership with the Westfield Police Department.”

According to Fox 5 New York, classes were temporarily moved to a different location while the classroom was sanitized, and a former teacher was assigned to Thompson’s art classes. Thompson, who teaches sixth and seventh grade visual art and eighth grade arts and crafts, is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 1.