The principal of a Santa Clara elementary school who was arrested on drug charges last week will be arraigned this afternoon, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Eric Dean Lewis, 42, principal of Montague Elementary School, was arrested Thursday at the San Francisco Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets, according to Michelle Gregory, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Justice.
Lewis, a San Francisco resident, was arrested after he allegedly offered to provide drugs to an undercover officer who had contacted him through an online dating site. The arrest has stunned students, parents and colleagues of Lewis. “He was well regarded in his community, he’s done a good job at his school and this is a complete shock to us,” said Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Unified School District.
Following his arrest, Lewis was immediately placed on unpaid administrative leave, she said. By this morning, a new interim principal had been appointed — veteran elementary school teacher and curriculum developer Barbara Friedenbach, who has been with the district for more than 15 years, Kappeler-Hurley said. She said Superintendent Bobbie Plough and school district staff were on site at Montague Elementary today to answer parents’ questions.
Kappeler-Hurley also said the school is sending a letter home with students today to notify parents about Lewis’ arrest and introduce them to the interim principal. The sting that led to Lewis’ arrest was set up after a drug task force involving the state Department of Justice and local police received a tip that Lewis was involved in drugs and frequented the dating site, Gregory said.
Lewis was not found to be in possession of drugs at the time of his arrest, but a search of his home uncovered around a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine, GHB and scales, Gregory said. The discovery led investigators to the conclusion that he was dealing, not just using, she said. It does not appear that Lewis was engaged in any drug activity related to the school, although as of late last week, investigators were still combing through Lewis’ computer to determine if further charges were warranted, she noted.
Lewis is currently being held in lieu of $25,000 bail, according to the district attorney’s office. He has been charged with five felonies for drug sales and possession, plus a misdemeanor charge of possessing drug paraphernalia. He is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. today at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice.
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