Mother arrested after son tests positive for meth is teacher with LCPS, district says
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (CBS4) —
The mother arrested after her 7-year-old son tested positive for meth is an elementary school teacher with Las Cruces Public Schools, according to a district spokeswoman.
Jo Galvan, with LCPS, said Melanie Marolt is a fifth grade teacher at Sunrise Elementary.
Marolt has been with the district for four and a half years, according to Galvan.
She has not been placed on leave, but is not teaching in a classroom, Galvan said. The district is conducting its own investigation.
Marolt and her live-in boyfriend, Skip H. Valenzuela, were charged with one count each of child abuse, possession of controlled substance and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
Marolt’s 7-year-old son tested positive for meth last month. The boy lives with his mother part-time, police said.
Investigators searched Marolt’s apartment, which she shared with Valenzuela, and found narcotics and paraphernalia used to ingest meth and heroin, police said.
Marolt and Valenzuela were arrested Monday and booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center.
Parents were informed Wednesday via a letter about Marolt's arrest. The letter read:
I am writing to inform you of a situation that is both surprising and concerning to the school staff. We have just recently learned that one of our teachers was arrested for alleged child abuse, possession of a controlled substance and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. Of course, we were shocked to hear of this news. As of today, the teacher has not returned to work. We do not know the status of her legal issue but her classroom will be covered by a qualified substitute, potentially through the end of the school year. Over the next two weeks, I will personally make multiple visits to the classroom to ensure everything is running smoothly and that instruction is continuing as normal.
The Superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools, Dr. Greg Ewing, has initiated an internal investigation of the teacher, separate and apart from the criminal proceeding pending against the teacher. In response to a request by the district, law enforcement conducted a canine (dog) sweep of the classroom and law enforcement has assured us that no illegal substance was detected and the classroom is safe.
Because this is a personnel matter, the investigation and its findings must remain confidential. However, please rest assured that all of our children, including those in the teacher’s class, are being cared for and are safe. They are, and always will be, our top priority.
If you wish to discuss this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me at 527-9626 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you,
Dora Solis, Principal
LCPS tells CBS4 that a background check is required for new hires but not a drug test.
Instead, the district policy says, “An employee shall be required to undergo drug/alcohol screening/testing if there is reasonable suspicion that the employee’s alcohol and/or drug use could impair job performance and/or affect safety of the employee, other staff or students.”
Parents CBS4 spoke with say they don’t think that’s enough.
“Most definitely, I think I would even opt for more random checking, not just things that happen ahead of time when they know they're going to get tested, just for the safety of our own children,” said parent Emily Ramirez.
Meanwhile, Lupita Martinez, who is a caregiver for children in the area, says she knows about the trust parents put in her when she is watching their kids and agrees that more checks should happen.
“I believe that, for the safety of the children, they should be continuously checking the records and checking how they are with themselves and their own families as well,” Martinez said.
As for Renee King, she says she talks with her grandchildren about right and wrong and when to report an adult.
“That's just scary, they're teaching other kids so (it) makes me wonder about the school district. Maybe they should do more drug testing or keep a tighter rein on the teachers,” King said.
She also worries that more LCPS teachers may be using drugs since there’s no testing.
“I'm sure there's more out there, but since we’re not doing more drug testing we're not catching more of it and I think they are. There should be more testing, at least more than just that one time,” King said.
King has lived in Las Cruces for the past 40 years and said she has never heard of anything like this happening before.