Belfast teacher charged with furnishing pot to students

Posted Feb. 14, 2013, at 2:24 p.m.
Sarah Lawler-Stoddard
Waldo County Jail
Sarah Lawler-Stoddard

BELFAST, Maine — A Jobs for Maine’s Graduates teacher who had been working at Belfast Area High School was arrested late last week after being accused of furnishing marijuana to her students and smoking it with them.

Sarah E. Lawler-Stoddard, 32, of Belfast came to the attention of school resource officer Greg Stearns late last month, according to the affidavit in support of her arrest that was filed at Belfast District Court. A concerned parent had called Jobs for Maine’s Graduates President Craig Larrabee late one night to tell him that the teacher reportedly had smoked marijuana with students.

“It’s very out of the ordinary,” Larrabee said Thursday. “The safety and well-being of our kids is our No. 1 priority. This is just a shocking development. It’s not something we condone, and it’s not who we are.”

Jobs for Maine’s Graduates is a statewide nonprofit organization that works with students in grades six through 12 to improve graduation rates and help graduates transition from school to work. Specialists such as Lawler-Stoddard serve as mentors and teachers and help students focus on career development, job attainment, time management and community service learning, among other goals.

Larrabee said he went to the high school the morning after receiving the phone call to ask school administrators and the police to investigate the allegations against Lawler-Stoddard, who was placed on administrative leave. She no longer works for the nonprofit, he said Thursday.

Lawler-Stoddard was arrested last Friday and charged with eight counts of aggravated furnishing of marijuana.

“Some students informed [officer Stearns] that certain other students were bragging about ‘partying’ with Sarah Lawler-Stoddard, but thought that [those students] had just been bragging, or lying about it. Other students admitted that they themselves had actually smoked marijuana with Sarah Lawler-Stoddard on numerous occasions,” Stearns wrote in the affidavit.

The officer spoke with one former and one current Jobs for Maine’s Graduates student, each reported smoking marijuana with the teacher. One, a 15-year-old girl, said she and the teacher had smoked the drug in a glass pipe that belonged to Lawler-Stoddard several times when the teacher picked her up and gave her a ride to school.

“Every time they did smoke together, the marijuana was always Ms. Lawler-Stoddard’s and [the student] never provided or furnished the marijuana,” Stearns wrote.

The other student told police he and his teacher had smoked marijuana several times last March in a Belfast residence that belongs to another former student.

Larrabee said his agency has replaced the teacher with one of his regional managers.

“We’ve done outreach to the parents. We’re doing everything we can to support the kids and our school partners at this point,” he said.

Lawler-Stoddard was taken to Waldo County Jail in Belfast to be booked, according to a jail official, who said she was released on $1,000 cash bail. She is due to appear at Waldo County Superior Court on March 28.

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