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Schools suspend arrested teacher

School officials have suspended a Lecanto Primary School teacher arrested over the weekend on charges of driving while intoxicated and possession of marijuana.

Crystal River police arrested Richard DaSilva, 37, early Saturday morning after he was involved in a minor traffic accident, according to a school official.

Police searched DaSilva's car after the accident and found drug paraphernalia and less than 20 grams of marijuana, said Neal Weiss, executive director of administrative services for the school district.

"I really don't have too much to say," DaSilva said late Wednesday when contacted at his Inverness home. "I am very, very sorry for the situation that has come up."

DaSilva said he was concerned about the effect of publicity on the students and declined to comment further until he decides his course of action.

DaSilva, who has worked for the school district since last year, was immediately removed from contact with students upon his arrival at school Monday morning. By Tuesday morning, after a preliminary investigation by school officials, Superintendent Carl Austin suspended DaSilva with pay.

Weiss said the initial investigation had found enough information that he is likely to recommend to the School Board on Tuesday that DaSilva be suspended without pay. That action would require School Board approval.

The school district has notified the state Department of Education of the charges. The investigative arm of that department has the authority to take action against a teacher's state certificate if the charge is serious enough.

"As educators, we're held to a higher standard," Weiss said. "All our employees know we're a drug-free workplace."

A drug charge against a teacher is also a difficult situation, since elementary school children are taught that using drugs is wrong, but Weiss said, "The school does everything that it can to minimize the impact and the disruption for students."