Teacher's lawyer: It wasn't pakalolo
Two Mililani Middle faculty members are accused of smoking pot before school
Two Mililani Middle School teachers were smoking a cigarette -- not pot -- before they headed to work, a defense attorney says.
Benjamin Ayson and Lisa Luhrsen, were arrested Monday for allegedly smoking pot.
"They were sharing a cigarette and that's all," said attorney David Gierlach, who represents Ayson. It was not marijuana, Gierlach said yesterday.
Ayson, a language arts and physical education teacher, and Luhrsen, a math teacher, were arrested after a parent observed them allegedly smoking marijuana in Ayson's pickup truck about 8:45 a.m. at the Mililani Park & Ride, a couple of minutes away from the school.
The parent followed them to the school and reported the incident to school officials and security.
School officials said they conducted an investigation. Police said marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found in the truck and on Ayson and Luhrsen. Both were arrested on suspicion of third-degree promotion of dangerous drugs, a petty misdemeanor. Each posted $50 bail and are scheduled to appear in Wahiawa District Court on Dec. 26.
Mililani Middle has a three-track schedule and 1,820 students from grades 6 to 8.
Principal Roger Kim said Ayson's and Luhrsen's students were on vacation, but students in other tracks were in school on Monday. Still, it was a workday for both teachers.
The teachers were placed on administrative paid leave while the investigation continues.
A letter was sent to the students' parents, Kim said. Small group discussions and advisory lessons were held with the students to allow them to voice their opinions on the matter.
Kim described Ayson and Luhrsen as "good teachers who work well with kids and who work well with other staff members." He said he was disappointed in their actions relating to the arrests.
School officials received some e-mails from concerned parents who expressed their disappointment.
Some parents and students had earlier recommended that the Department of Education should fire them. Some also called for mandatory random drug testing for all teachers.
"I'm not opposed to random drug testing but at the same time, I wouldn't single out teachers. I think we have to look at the whole gamut of state employees," Kim said.
Gierlach said Ayson would not comment. Luhrsen could not be reached for comment.