Haverford School

T/E Superintendent disputes Montgomery County DA report — Conestoga High School NOT involved in drug trafficking

Conestoga High SchoolIn the days since the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office announced the drug trafficking arrests, including the two ringleaders, Haverford School graduates, the story has become widely reported — from CNN to Good Morning America, there are articles and videos on the subject.

I’m certain that an expensive prep school such as the elite Haverford School (with upper school tuition approaching $35K) is in overdrive with damage control — much is at stake with current parents and the endowments of wealthy alum. With a tag line on their website of “Preparing Boys for Life”,  the Haverford School struggles to handle the PR nightmare.

Watching Good Morning America report on the story and the high schools (Lower Merion, Haverford School, Radnor, Harriton and Conestoga) and the colleges (Lafayette, Haverford and Gettysburg) was sad — and really eerie to the Conestoga High School logo flash on the TV screen along with the others.  But is all the information contained in the Montgomery County DA’s press release of April 21 accurate?   Apparently, not according to T/E Superintendent Dan Waters.

Waters has just released a T/E School District press release which disputes the report of the Montgomery County DA’s office.  Although Conestoga High School was named by the District Attorney in the list of Main Line high schools involved in the drug ring, Waters claims that the information is not correct.  According to Waters in the following press release, no students were identified or arrested from Conestoga High School in this recent drug trafficking incident.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to believe that Waters is correct and that no Conestoga students are involved but it seems strange that the DA’s office would just add Conestoga High School to the list of high schools involved — how does a District Attorney make that kind of mistake?   If Waters is correct and that the Montgomery County DA’s office erred in their report, shouldn’t the T/E School District board and administration demand a retraction?  Shouldn’t Conestoga High School be removed from the list?

Below is Dr. Waters response to the Montgomery County District Attorney April 21 press release —  you make your own judgement.  Coincidentally, the T/E Public Information Committee, chaired by T/E school board member Scott Dorsey, is holding their regularly monthly meeting tonight (6:30 PM, Administration building).  Although the agenda for tonight’s meeting was set before these recent drug arrests, there is certain to be discussion. At every school board meeting, president Kevin Buraks invites the public to attend committee meetings, stating that the ‘real’ work is done at the committee level.  With that in mind, I’m guessing that the Public Information committee meeting may have a ‘higher than normal’ attendance.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office press release reported on recent drug related arrests naming nearby high schools and colleges. The press release once again highlights the need for continued efforts to provide a safe learning environment for our students. I write to inform our community that we continue to be vigilant regarding the use of drugs and alcohol by our students within our community.

The safety of our students is paramount in our efforts to provide them with a safe learning environment. The District’s drug and alcohol practices and policies include prevention, deterrence and support for our students. The prevention strategies include classroom education efforts, schoolwide programs, student activities supporting healthy lifestyles and counseling programs. Deterrence efforts include random canine sniffs supported by the police and the enforcement of the drug and alcohol policy when applicable. Support for our students include individual counseling by our school counselors and mental health specialists. The Conestoga High School student support team, known as CARE, accepts referrals from students, parents and staff to assist students who may be in need of services. In addition, drug and alcohol counselors provided through COAD (Chester County Council on Addictive Diseases) are available to our students and families. Within the community, we have our on-going strong partnerships with ARCH (Area Residents Caring and Helping) and the police departments of both townships.

Recently, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office issued a press release which mentioned a drug distribution ring in local high schools and colleges. Although Conestoga High School was mentioned as one of the schools in the news report, at this time, according to the affidavits forwarded to me from the Montgomery County District Attorney, there were no sellers arrested or identified from Conestoga High School. We recognize that future arrest warrants may be issued by the District Attorney if the investigation continues. We are prepared to assist law enforcement officials when they request our involvement in investigations. What can we do as a community? As the police have directed us in the past, we are all encouraged to contact the police department with information concerning illegal drug activity in our community.

 Please contact the school principal, school counselor or me should you have any questions or concerns.

Dan Waters
Superintendent of Schools
Tredyffrin/Easttown School District

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Suburban schools no longer a safe haven from illegal drugs

The use of drugs in suburbia is a growing epidemic – it’s not just on the streets anymore, it’s in suburban neighborhoods.  The drug epidemic has pulled cocaine and heroin out of the dark shadows of American cities and into our suburban schools.

Today’s drug bust headlines mark a sad day for many of the ‘best of the best’ main line high schools and colleges.We learned of the arrest of 11 people involved in ‘Main Line Take Over Project’, a drug trafficking ring.  Apparently two Haverford  School graduates, Neil K. Scott, 25, and Timothy C. Brooks, 18, were the drug operation kingpins and hired students at Conestoga, Harriton, Lower Merion, Haverford School and Radnor high schools and college students from Gettysburg, Lafayette and Haverford as their drug peddlers.

A press release this afternoon from Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman’s office contained the details of the drug ring.  A 4-month long investigation into the trafficking organization identified Brooks and Scott as the organization’s principal suppliers.  Scott was shipped bulk pounds of marijuana from a California supplier and the shipments were delivered to his Haverford apartment (the base of the operation), to his parents’ home in Paoli and to Brooks’ family home in Villanova. In addition to marijuana, Scott and Brooks sold cocaine, hash oil and ecstasy to the high school students and college students.

According to the police report, Scott had designed a business plan with sales incentives for his drug business:

Neil Scott encouraged college sub-dealers to locate new customers to offset his cost of driving to their campuses. Scott offered the sub-dealers incentives for locating new customers and making referrals. The incentives were lower prices for drugs and the opportunity to buy them on credit.

Text messages recovered during this investigation revealed that Neil Scott gave Timothy Brooks business advice on how to expand the sale of marijuana in local high schools. Brooks in return, supervised sub-dealers who sold marijuana at the local high schools. Brooks supplied them with marijuana and encouraged them to efficiently distribute drugs at their schools.

The high school sub-dealers were encouraged to sell at least one (1) pound of marijuana a week. Brooks encouraged his sub-dealers to meet their weekly quota. The incentives included a lower purchase price for marijuana in order to increase their profit margin. Brooks instructed the high school sub-dealers to make certain there was always a constant supply of marijuana in their assigned school. Brooks said this was important to him because he remembered not always being able to buy marijuana when he was in high school.

Multiple search warrants found drug trafficking evidence at 9 locations in Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Northampton, Adams and Philadelphia counties plus the homes of Scott and Brooks.  According to the police report, the following items were seized:

  • Approximately 8 pounds of marijuana
  • Approximately 3 grams of hash oil;
  • Approximately 23 grams of cocaine;
  • Approximately 11 grams of MDMA; (Ecstasy)
  • $11,035.00 in U.S. Currency;
  • 1 loaded .223 caliber AR-15 Assault Rifle;
  • 1 loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol;
  • 1 .22 caliber AR-15 style rifle;
  • Additional .22 caliber, .223 caliber and 9mm ammunition;
  •  A 2007 Toyota 4 Runner sport utility vehicle;
  •  A 2009 Acura RDX sport utility vehicle;
  •  8 cellular phones;
  •  1 computer;
  •  Equipment and supplies used to manufacture butane hash oil;
  •  Numerous items of drug paraphernalia.

Last month we read in the Philadelphia Inquirer, that Chester County released theirheroin overdose statisticsand at that time District Attorney Tom Hogan commented, “Heroin does not discriminate.  It is a deadly drug that is abused by young and old, poor and rich, white and black.  Nobody is safe … There are students in every high school in Chester County who are using heroin, from Conestoga to Coatesville, from Unionville to Oxford.”

For decades, families moved from cities and into the suburbs in part because many believed that suburban schools provided a more wholesome environment.  Many believed that moving from the city to suburbia provided a certain way of life, one of tranquil, tree-lined streets, soccer leagues and better schools for their families.  Similarly, to my upbringing outside Washington, DC in a Maryland suburb, there are probably Main Line parents who thought that suburban public schools would provide their children with safe and more wholesome environment than their urban counterparts. Today’s drug arrest on the Main Line should provide a reality check for all.

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