N.J. Middle-School Teacher Is Charged After Overdosing on Fentanyl in Front of His Students: Police

Students saw teacher Frank Thompson, 57, "in distress" before a lifesaving dose of Narcan was administered

A middle-school art teacher from Westfield, N.J., was charged on Thursday after he allegedly overdosed on Fentanyl in front of his class last November.

According to a statement from the Westfield Police Department, teacher Frank Thompson, 57, is charged with multiple drug-related offenses in the wake of the Nov. 29 incident, in which students saw him unconscious on his classroom floor at Roosevelt Intermediate School around 9 a.m., the police statement says.

Students in the room reportedly witnessed him "in distress" and sought help from a school administrator. When School Resource Officer Fortunato Riga came to assist, he noticed Thompson was showing signs of a drug overdose.

Riga administered an emergency dose of Narcan (Naloxone Hydrochloride) and Thompson's condition fortunately began to improve, the statement says.

Narcan is a lifesaving medication that rapidly reverses an overdose from opioids like fentanyl, heroin, and certain prescription medications, per the CDC. It can be administered as an injection or a nasal spray.

During the investigation that followed, authorities allegedly found "suspected controlled dangerous substance and various items of drug paraphernalia" in Thompson's classroom closet, the statement says.

Roosevelt Intermediate School in Westfield, N.J.
Roosevelt Intermediate School in Westfield, N.J. Google Maps

On January 5, the 57-year-old was charged with Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; and Endangering Welfare of Children.

Thompson teaches visual art to 6th and 7th-graders at Roosevelt, as well as 8th-grade arts & crafts, according to the school's website. It's unclear whether he is still employed by the school.

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In a statement to PEOPLE, Superintendent Dr. Raymond González noted that "personnel matters are ... deemed confidential." He also wrote, "Appropriate action was taken by the administration of the Westfield Public Schools in accordance with the laws and regulations governing school personnel and this particular situation. Since this is also an on-going police matter, it would be inappropriate for the school administration to comment any further at this time."

"The safety and welfare of our students and staff is of utmost importance to the administration of the Westfield Public Schools," the statement continued.

PEOPLE reached out to the Westfield Police Department for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

It's not known whether Thompson has issued a plea to the charges against him, or if he's hired an attorney to speak on his behalf. He is due to appear in court on February 1, 2023.

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