Pattye Benson

Community Matters

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

Share or Like:


Add a Comment
  1. Dan does not dispute the Montco DA, nor does he deny Conestoga’s involvement. He has simply clarified that no student has been arrested, and has outlined the drug abuse prevention efforts in place. I think you have totally misrepresented the press release from Dr. Waters.

    1. DA press release from Monto Co, in part states,

      Scott and Brooks employed students from five (5) local high schools and (3) three colleges as sub-dealers to distribute cocaine, marijuana, hash oil and ecstasy.
       Lower Merion High School
       The Haverford School
       Harriton High School
       Conestoga High School
       Radnor High School.
       Gettysburg College
       Lafayette College
       Haverford College

      Dr. Water press release states in part,

      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.

      Looks to me DA says there were sub-dealers employed at Conestoga to distribute drugs. If there were no sub-dealers employed at Conestoga, why say it? Why name Conestoga and not Great Valley? For the DA to state that there were sub-dealers at Conestoga, wouldn’t they need proof? Or, is it because the person was not identified? Seems like you can’t have it both ways; either there is a sub-dealer at Conestoga or not. If the DA is claiming that there is a sub-dealer, the person should be identified or if a minor, state that the person is a minor and the name cannot be released (as was done with Lower Merion). Why should Conestoga have its name listed with the other schools, if the information is not accurate?

      1. The press release also states “announce the arrest of eight (8) individuals, an arrest warrant on another and petitions on two (2) juveniles”.

        Nothing in the TESD release contradicts the press release of the DA, and the DA is under no obligation to present it’s entire case in this initial press release. You are getting way ahead of yourself.

        1. anyone who has had kids in Conestoga KNOWS there is a drug and alcohol problem . Teachers just check the bathrooms!!… I bet no one has ever deeply looked into this.. Cmon folks… open your eyes..

        2. MVille,

          Teachers do check the bathrooms.

          Then, more times than not, when they find something, the kid begs the teacher not to say anything, to give them another chance, they talk about how it will ruin their life, they won’t get to play in the big game that weekend, damage their chances for college scholarship bla bla bla. And the teacher and or administrator knows this is true. It’ puts the teachers in a terrible position. Kids experiment. Kids do really stupid things.

  2. The news is reporting the names of the drug dealers at all the schools except for CHS. Obviously the DA knows the details why not release it.

  3. This is strange. Dr. Waters says future arrest warrants may be issued if the investigation continues. Does that mean if the investigation continues, they will then arrest the Conestoga student because they don’t have enough evidence now but they may then?

  4. WHy all this speculation? The DA threw a wide blanket…Dr. Waters asked for validation, clearly, and there was none forthcoming. No one thinks the kids at Stoga are all in the clear forever, but the Duke Lacrosse Case should have taught us all something — DA’s are not all about just doing right. Press releases are often just glorified wish lists. That’s not to say that this DA is attempting to point the finger incorrectly, but it does mean that he expanded his release beyond the documented facts.
    The schools most considered “in competition” in this region are the ones he named….perhaps he was trying to protect real estate values for all of them….if he left one in the clear, the others would complain…
    Then again, TESD is really vigilant with locker searches (try coming in late some day…) and parking lot searches…so I’m sure Dr. Waters would like to know who the police suspect and may be trying to draw that out…

    But indeed — in this case, Dr. Waters press release appears entirely accurate, and the DA’s a bit rough around the edges.

    1. That’s not to say that this DA is attempting to point the finger incorrectly, but it does mean that he expanded his release beyond the documented facts.

      Interesting — I cannot imagine that the DA would arbitrarily state that there are sub-dealers at the following schools, name Conestoga High School without documenting her facts. But guess that’s just my naive thinking. As far as I’m concerned, the focus needs to be on the drugs in the schools and what is being done about the situation.

    2. Side,

      This is big news. It’s the first thing mentioned everywhere I go. It shines an even brighter light on Conestoga because the school was mentioned without naming a sub dealer, I got a call from a business associate IN CA the other day saying “didn’t you say your kid goes to that CHS that’s in the news?” Nice. So it’s the question asked at every water cooler from Paoli to Bala and beyond.

      Did anyone see where Tom Tobin is taking over for the fired U-CF elementary school principal?

  5. “T/E Superintendent disputes Montgomery County DA report — Conestoga High School NOT involved in drug trafficking” == this is what is inaccurate. Waters did not say that.

  6. I attended the Public Information Committee Meeting last night chaired by Scott Dorsey. Karen C. sits to his right and seems to take a leadership role too. Karen does a great job and works hard in so many other areas, not sure why she needs to help Scott who clearly has no problem running a meeting in front of a small group of citizens.

    Thanks to both he and Pattye Benson for working together to take to the Policy Committee Meeting, headed by new comer to the board Virginia Lastner, in May the recommendation to change the way citizen questions are answered at Board Meetings.

    It was also announced that the search for a new supt. when Dr. Waters retires in 2015 will be discussed at the next board meeting.

    1. Thanks for reporting the good news about possible changes to the public comment process, and to Pattye for your persistence on the issue. The public’s questions and their answers are an important part of the information flow and the more effective the process, the better.

      On the drug trafficking matter, I would guess that Mr Scott knew the lay of the land at CHS from his couple of years there a decade ago.

      1. Ray, I thought that the public comment process was to move from the Public Information Committee to the regular school board meeting. But to change the public comment process, the issue now needs to go to the Policy committee meeting. I didn’t know that there was a ‘written’ policy on the public comment process so I was surprised that it was going to the policy committee. Oh well — it’s all about forward movement, right?

      2. Ray,

        The word on the street goes to your point. The ring leader attended CHS before transferring to Haverford, so maybe the D.A. assumes some sort of connection or has some knowledge of a connection.

  7. Pattye,

    Take a look at the policy handbook. It would take hours upon hours to read through all the rules.

    I attended a couple of policy meetings around the time of the saving of the tennis courts. I would love to know the billable dollars the district paid to the lawyer who sat in on every one of these meetings. (Don’t know if the lawyer is there for every policy meeting.) All told, as far as I know to date, there are 37 regulations created for the use of the courts.

    The courts have been around for decades, maintained by the generous kindness of a neighborhood enthusiast without so much as an incident. The board gets involved, wants to demolish them, citizens react to save them, the whole thing goes to policy and citizens spend god knows how much money on lawyers racking up billable dollars to come come up with 37 regulations controlling their use. I’m afraid to walk on the court for fear of breaking one of these policy rules. At the same time Roos is racking up tax payer dollars talking about gum on tennis courts, the board is working hard to outsource valued employees who spend one on one time with our children.

    As I recall, someone reported last year that the hourly rates of the lawyer and the architect firm were raised. Wages for aides and paras were reduced 20 to 30 % and they are under constant threat of outsourcing. Does this make any sense?

    I like all the new board members so far. I have attended Policy, legislative and public information meetings with Lastner, Carlson and Dorsey at the helm. They say things that make sense, their observations are real and true and they listen and are respectful to citizens.

    IMO, creating and following rules is not always as important as using good judgement and being thoughtful and considerate. Especially to tax paying citizens who have to pay for these decisions.

  8. Margaritaville is correct. Anyone who has or had kids in CHS know there is and has been a drug problem. It’s just swept under the rug like all other bad publicity in TE. They do immediate “damage control”. You don’t need to look in the bathrooms. My two former students witnessed prescription drugs being sold out in the open in the classroom right under the teachers noses.
    There were also students carrying weapons (knives and guns). If you think that because we live in an affluent area, we are immune, you are dead wrong. Private or public school doesn’t matter-we are all dealing with the same problems.

    1. If you knew these claims to be true, a simple call to the district would be more helpful than sharing anecdotes on blogs. Advising the district about guns takes one minute…is an expellable offense. They can search for any reason. Be an adult. Step up and be accountable. Many people have and the district responds. Can change what you dont report.

  9. Former,

    It’s true there are drugs and alcohol in many if not all schools. I have kids in TE schools. What you say has not been my experience. Teachers and administrators do not sweep it under the carpet. If they see a kid with drugs or alcohol, (even smokeless tobacco), they turn the kid in and the child faces the consequences of the infraction. I have seen this and heard about it many times.

    School personnel cannot confront a kid they suspect is using or has drugs on them. Of course other kids see other kids with drugs. Kids don’t try as hard to hide it from other kids. Kids do their best to hide it from teachers and administrators.

    Years ago, a kid was caught in my child’s middle school with drugs. I called the guidance counselor, I called the principal and I called district offices. Every one of them was great. I was actually surprised. The guidance counselor told me what happened, how it happened, and what the school did when they found out. The principal and district office person immediately responded to my calls and concerns by answering all my questions openly and honestly and I’m not saying it was because of me, but within a month they had drugs dogs in that school sniffing out every locker in it. I don’t think they could have handled it any better. I was really frightened by this (Middle school, really?) and by the end of it, I felt fine. It’s not the school’s fault and schools can’t control when kids bring drugs in the schools. I will tell you though, their actions demonstrate that they do care and, there are systems and programs in place to help not only the kids but families as well.

    ARCH is hosting a panel of recovering addicts and their parents this Thursday night. I’m going to try my best and go and everyone with kids in the district should too.

  10. Babs, I remember those days of drug sniffing dogs. What you say is refreshing. How do you prevent kids coming to school tanked up? Guns and knives? Do we need metal detectors? Guns???? and with that tragedy in Conn. this past week, knives too? Whats a parent to do? Who are these kids? We are not immune for sure Rich and poor schools alike have this problem. I guess we should not be surprised.. The countries attitudes about pot are changing. Whether you agree or disagree about the punishment for selling or just smoking it, the bottom line is like alcohol it is a problem that at least distracts kids from growing up and focusing on their tasks at hand.. Yes, it is frustrating. Kids from “good ” homes run astray as well as from problem homes.. Maybe we need more just say no again.. education in the school… It is a tough one.

    Guns and knives really concerns me. This must be dealt with. thanks for listeningt

  11. That’s a mighty big claim, Mville. I have my ear pretty close to the ground and I have never heard that.

    There is education in schools. Most parents I know talk to their kids about it too. Alot is being done. At some point the kid has to make the right decision or face the harsh consequences when they get caught. I think it would be a good idea to let the kids know about the consequences these young Haverford graduates face and the possible ways it will follow them for the rest of their lives.

  12. ok what were you specifically relating to in a previous post that prompted you to say that was a big claim.. is that clear?

  13. Oh, Pardon me, I thought you were being condescending.
    Says alot about me, doesn’t it.

    The knives and guns claim in the school.

  14. why would you think that? I just wasn’t sure what specifically you were referring to…all good.

    that comment was from someone else. I didn’t come up with it..

  15. At the Public Information Committee Meeting last Thursday there was alot of talk about facilitating communications between residents and board members. Pattye spoke at length about letters to Board members not being answered and that perhaps Board members weren’t seeing all letters sent to them by citizens.

    Directors responded by saying that they do receive e-mails and they gave various reasons why some e-mails were not received none of which had to do with the fact that some e-mails may have been blocked or filtered.

    I was on the District Employee Website today. Under each administrator’s name are their job descriptions. The last one listed for Art McDonnell is “Questions for the School Board.” I heard last year that Art filters citizen e-mails to School Board Directors. Maybe this is an outdated description and maybe this is not Art’s job anymore but if it is, why didn’t the Board say so in the Public Information Meeting last Thursday night? I specifically asked in the meeting about the flow of the e-mails when they come in. Please correct me if I’m wrong: They go to Dan’s secretary and then the communications administrator and then onto the Directors. Which is it? Do they go to Dan’s secretary first or do they go to Art? Does Art send them to Dan’s secretary? It’s an important question.

    Personally, I don’t care much. The fact that my e-mails were not answered, even though I was told they were answered, (I don’t consider, “Hey we got your e-mail” a response), is one of the reasons I started attending committee meetings.

    As a new Director told me, Go to committee meetings. She was right. That’s where the meat of the work gets done. It’s great that Pattye and Scott Dorsey are working to change the way citizens questions are answered at meetings, but by the time the monthly board meeting rolls around, decisions have already been made.

    1. Yes, at last weeks Public Information meeting, it was clearly stated by Dr. Waters secretary received the emails and was instructed by Dr. Waters as to who should receive them. I recall last year that it was Art McDonnell who received the resident emails and that he decided where they were sent. The disconnect for me was that ALL resident emails are to go to ALL school board members — yet, as I explained in the Public Information meeting, I have been told by residents that their emails were not received by specific school board members when they were asked. I get that all email senders (as long as the emails are signed) receive an automatic ‘we have received’ your email response but when I asked how long a resident could expect to get the actual response, there was no definite response. I understand that some issues may take longer than others but my suggestion would be if someone does not receive a real response within 3 days, they should re-send the email. As I mentioned at that meeting, there is no real way for a school board member to know if the District receives an email from a resident — they have to trust that the administration does indeed forward ALL emails to ALL school board members.

  16. It’s very strange that each school director CHOOSES not to have an email address where they can directly receive citizen input and questions. There is no law or no policy that says school directors have to submit to censorship by any administrator or any fellow board member. Why would a school director want to put a third (or fourth or fifth) party between themselves and the voters they serve?

    1. Glad that you weighed in on this Keith. This is exactly the point I struggled to get across last week at the Public Information meeting. There’s no absolutely no way that T/E School Board members know that they have seen EVERY resident email that goes into the central email address. They have to trust that the administration sends them ALL emails. In addition to the possible problem that Board members may not see all the emails, there is an additional problem that has been suggested to me by a couple of residents. And that’s the ‘timing’ of when the emails get forwarded. Here’s an example — last year a resident told me that she sent an email to the Board the day of the monthly Board meeting. This person had wanted the information contained in her email to be in the hands of the Board BEFORE the Board meeting. But the email was not forwarded to the Board until the following day — was it conveniently an oversight or deliberate action? Don’t know.

      When I looked at the U-CF website, beyond the fact that all 9 school board members have their personal emails listed, there was something else that caught my eye —

      Opportunity For Public Input
      At regular board meetings, public comment is taken on agenda items at the beginning of the regular monthly meetings; time is also allocated for additional public input at the meeting’s end as needed.

      Citizens who want to have a specific item placed on the agenda must send a written request to the Superintendent at least one week prior to the meeting.

      Work sessions are also held in public. The purpose of these sessions is for the school board, as a whole, to gather information, review and discuss issues.

      All Meeting times and locations are posted on the district calendar at

      U-CF residents are permitted to ask for items to be placed on the school board agenda — wow, I hope that T/E School Board members see this.

    2. Keith,

      Great point and it goes to the old saying actions speak louder than words. They say they want to and do receive all e-mails but how can they know that for sure especially since they’ve been told they in fact do not. If they really wanted to make sure they do, they would have addresses where they could directly accept questions.

      Having met some of them though, they are very approachable and will have a real conversation with you, especially the new ones. It has been my experience, the ones that have been around for a while deflect the issues by saying things like “no one ever comes to meetings” so then when I come to meetings he says “I represent 39,000 other residents, why should I listen to you?” Then the conversation deteriorates into nothing that has to do with your original point so the answer is to move on and find a director who really wants to listen to you and respects what you say and appreciates that you want to be involved. I know it’s difficult to make afternoon committee meetings but that is where the work is really done and that is where you can talk to the new Directors with any chance of influencing their decisions.

      Again, if a Director gives flippant, insidious, rude, condescending comments, especially ones that have nothing to do with the point you want to discuss, move on
      and keep trying until you find one who does.

  17. I read Ray Hoffman’s letter in the main line times regarding his opinion that Dr. Waters needs to openly acknowledge that there is a drug problem at CHS and that parents need to become more aware and get involved.

    There is a tremendous amount of pressure on most kids in this district to succeed. Disposable income is not a problem, with their independence from cell phones and cars kids can buy fake ID’s and gain access more easily than less affluent kids, and more come from disjointed families and you throw the constant desire to be perfect in the mix and you have the ingredients for alcohol and drug abuse.

    I appreciate Ray’s comments and agree with his concern but not sure that Dr. Waters’ public acknowledgement of the problem is the answer. Not sure it isn’t either, it’s a good conversation to have and especially now.

    Parents sometimes defend their children’s drug and alcohol use believing it is safer for them to do it in their home than to go out and do it. Drugs have become more normalized in our society. We are constantly bombarded with ads on T.V. about the latest and greatest. I went to the dentist the other day. When I told the Dr. I wasnt on any medication after asked, the Dr. couldn’t believe it and said that was very rare. That surprised me.

    Maybe a good step would include acknowledgement by Dr. Waters, I don’t know. Seems to me, we need to dig alot deeper than that.

    I am interested in other comments on this topic.

    1. Parents in the community need to acknowledge there is a problem. Sure, things happen in school, but the majority of use is happening outside of school. Lack of supervision and lack of limits is a big piece of this. The adults in the community need to take a look in the mirror. The schools and staffs are not afraid to address these issues. I think it is rediculous to assume otherwise.

  18. Along with CHS, TESD, FLITE, Paoli Wildcats, CHS SADD and Conestoga Student Council:

    ARCH (Area Residents Caring and Helping) is proud to sponser:

    UNGUARDED: A conversation with Chris Herren about drug addiction and recovery. Parent and Community presentation:

    Oct. 1, 2014, 7:00P.M. at CHS.

    Chris is a former basketball star who played for the Boston Celtics and battled drug addiction.

  19. Thank-you Tom Hogan, volunteers and law enforcement

    ‘NOPE’ battles drug abuse in schools

    By Michael N. Price, Daily Local News

    Posted: 10/01/14, 6:22 PM EDT |

    West Chester >> County law enforcement is teaming with a determined group of local volunteers to initiate a school-based drug abuse prevention program named NOPE to combat an ongoing and deadly heroin epidemic.

    The non-profit program was announced by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office and described as an initiative that delivers personal and high-impact presentations to middle school and high school students. NOPE – Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education – presentations are already taking place in the county’s schools, officials said.

    “Children are dying from drug overdoses here in Chester County, not just in cities like Philadelphia,” said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan. “The main overdose threats are heroin and prescription drugs. NOPE gives us a tool to help educate students and parents. The goal of NOPE is simple – to save lives.”

    Officials said the presentations are designed to be uncomfortable, graphic, and emotional. They also provide a look at the horrors of drug overdoses from several different perspectives.

    The students first hear from a healthcare professional who describes the scientific interactions of drugs with a developing brain. Then, the students listen to a police officer describe the “grim task” of witnessing fatal overdoses and informing distraught families that a loved one has died. Finally, they hear from family members of those who have died describe the pain caused by the death of their children.

    Schools are holding separate presentations for students and parents.

    “Fighting drug and alcohol use and addiction among teens requires a community effort. Part of that effort is educating our parents and students about the dangers of drugs. NOPE is a concerted effort to help parents understand warning signs and dangers of drug use,” said West Chester Area School District Superintendent Jim Scanlon.

    Heroin and prescription drug overdoses have reached troubling numbers in recent years, and officials say the problem is not slowing down. Last year 24 people died in heroin overdoses in Chester County. Law enforcement officials have consistently pointed to the rise in prescription drug abuse as a major factor in the deadly use of heroin.

    Many teens first develop an addiction to prescription drugs, but when the supply runs out their addiction leads them to cheaper, more dangerous heroin.

    “One in five teens has abused prescription drugs. The average age of first illegal drug use is 13 years old, a number that shocks many people. This is a plague that we must fight with a coordinated effort among parents, educators, and law enforcement. The future of our children depends on it,” Hogan said.

    NOPE’s next event for parents and community members in the West Chester School District is Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at West Chester East High School, 450 Ellis Lane, West Chester. In addition to West Chester Area School District, presentations are currently planned for Great Valley School District, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, and Twin Valley School District. NOPE is communicating with the following school districts to schedule presentations: Tredyffrin/Easttown, Avon Grove, Owen J. Roberts, Coatesville, and the Chester County Intermediate Unit Technical College High Sch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Community Matters © 2024 Frontier Theme