A Howard County middle school teacher was charged yesterday with supplying alcohol to minors after he allegedly permitted students to drink in his Columbia townhouse on the last day of school.
Todd Keith Greenleaf, 28, of the 8700 block of Tamar Drive, admitted purchasing malt liquor and beer for six of his students at Hammond Middle School to drink June 13 after the final half-day of school ended, county police said. He was released without bail, according to the Associated Press.
Mr. Greenleaf -- realizing he had made a mistake, according to court documents -- told his school's principal about the incident the next day.
Mr. Greenleaf has been a seventh-grade social studies teacher at the North Laurel middle school for two years, and parents contacted recently praised his teaching ability and rapport with students. The students -- five boys and one girl -- were 12 to 15 years old, police said.
"This is a teacher who made a serious mistake in judgment," said Howard County police Sgt. Steven Keller, a police spokesman. "We take this very seriously."
School officials would not comment on the police charges or their own investigation, citing school system confidentiality regulations, said Patti Caplan, a school spokeswoman. She also would not comment on Mr. Greenleaf's current status within the school system.
Mr. Greenleaf tried to resign from the school system June 22, nine days after the alleged incident. But the Howard County school board without comment refused to accept the resignation -- which school sources said was to ensure that the board will be able to include the outcome of the school system investigation in his personnel file.
In a brief telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Greenleaf declined to comment on the charges other than to say he will not seek to teach in Howard County again.
Meanwhile, the mother of one of the students involved said yesterday she isn't too troubled about the incident -- though she labeled Mr. Greenleaf's alleged actions inappropriate.
"I've been [out of town] recently, so I haven't been paying that close of attention to this," said Tina Zillmer, whose son, 15, went to Mr. Greenleaf's home. "But if [Mr. Greenleaf] truly did what the police say, then that was a definite lack of judgment.
"My son looked up to him," she said. "Nobody is going to be glad that this happened but if a teacher does something like that, then he shouldn't be teaching."
Mrs. Zillmer emphasized that her son told her he left Mr. Greenleaf's townhouse as soon as the other students began drinking the alcohol, though court documents allege otherwise.
According to those documents, the students first began discussing drinking alcohol on the last day of school after they missed the bus. The students decided they wanted to drink beer and asked Mr. Greenleaf to buy it for them, according to Mr. Greenleaf's signed statement to police.
After initially refusing, Mr. Greenleaf then drove the students in his car to Whiskey Bottom Liquors in North Laurel. The students gave him money for four 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor and two six-packs of beer, court documents said.
The group then went to Mr. Greenleaf's townhouse, documents said. One of the students said he needed to be driven home to do his chores, and Mr. Greenleaf and another student drove the boy home and waited for him to finish. When the teacher and students returned to Mr. Greenleaf's townhouse, they found that several of the students had drunk substantial amounts of beer and malt liquor. One student already had vomited and another did so shortly after Mr. Greenleaf's return, the documents said, and he "realized the magnitude of what he had done."
The six students and Mr. Greenleaf waited about 90 minutes for the students to sober up, but two of them still appeared to be intoxicated when Mr. Greenleaf dropped them off at a North Laurel apartment complex around 5:30 p.m., the documents said.
Court documents quote the teacher as saying he drank only several sips of beer that afternoon.
At a teachers' workshop led by Hammond Middle Principal David Oaks the next day, Mr. Greenleaf told Mr. Oaks about it. Mr. Oaks then told Associate Superintendent James McGowan, who called police the next morning, prompting the monthlong investigation.
Each of the six misdemeanor charges filed against Mr. Greenleaf carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a $1,000 fine. He was released without bail, according to the Associated Press.
The school's PTA president, Virginia Charles, said she was glad to see the incident is taken seriously by police and school officials.