Middle school teacher arrested on twelve drug and neglect charges

CLEWISTON — Hendry County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer, Chad Pelham, placed 35 year old Maria Otilla Rivera-Magana under arrest on several drug and neglect charges upon leaving Clewiston Middle School.

Maria Otilla Rivera-Magana

School Resource Officer Pelham had been contacted by medical personnel on Friday, Dec. 1, in the evening hours. They reported to him that two middle school students had complained of being ill and reportedly admitted to smoking marijuana they had purchased from a permanent substitute school teacher at Clewiston Middle School.

Deputy Pelham began to investigate the claims made by the students. Contact was then made with School Administration and the Hendry County Narcotics Division where it was arranged to make a purchase from the teacher.

On Friday, Dec. 8, deputies arrested Rivera-Magana on several charges: two counts of possession of synthetic drug, with intent to sell within 1000 feet of a school, two counts possession of marijuana within 1000 feet of school, two counts possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within 1000 feet of a school, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two counts of interference with, and two counts of neglect of a child. Additional criminal charges are pending.

“I commend Deputy Pelham and members of the Narcotics Division. We cannot and will not allow this behavior to continue on our school campuses,” said Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden. “The school district and administrators were very cooperative and without their support in this case, it could have been more difficult to make this arrest occur.” Whidden went on to say, “one of the advantages we have here is the overwhelming cooperation and working relationship between the Hendry County School District and the Sheriff’s Office, for which we are grateful.”

Rivera-Magana was transported and being held in the Hendry County Jail on $90,500 bond.

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