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Connecticut School Board Allows Drug-Dealing Teacher to Return to Classroom


The Connecticut Board of Education agreed to restore 37-year-old Orlando Hernandez’s teaching license despite a 2003 drug conviction that cost him his job. According to documents with the state education department, Hernandez was arrested for selling cocaine to an undercover officer while he was a math teacher at Fair Haven Middle School.

Hernandez said the offense was a stupid mistake that occurred during a turbulent period of his life, which included the death of his son and separation from his wife. He was found guilty in 2004, and resigned shortly thereafter.

In the fall, he got a job at the Bridge Academy, a charter school in the Bridgeport area. Although school officials knew about his past conviction, they decided to give him a chance because of his strong teaching record. The incident remained unnoticed until it was revealed by a routine review of records by the state.

The state's review resulted in Hernandez's teaching certificate being stripped due to a Connecticut law that requires teachers with serious criminal offenses to automatically lose their license.

Hernandez appealed for reinstatement, and with support from his colleagues, the state board decided to restore his license till 2010. As part of the agreement, Hernandez will teach under strict conditions, which include undergoing regular drug testing and psychological counseling.