Teacher Arrested in Drug Trafficking Ring - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/02/06

Teacher Arrested in Drug Trafficking Ring

A Chatham County teacher faces drug charges today for her involvement in a huge drug bust over the weekend. The Savannah-Chatham Counter Narcotics Team arrested 12 people and are still looking for four more.

Among those arrested was 29-year-old Alycia Paledino, a teacher at Charles Ellis Montessori Academy.

Parents said when they first found out, they were disappointed that a teacher who is supposed to be a role model was arrested for being involved in a drug ring. But at the same time, they still feel their kids are safe.

It's a investigation that has kept narcotics officers busy for the last year, and this weekend agents recovered guns, cars, and more than half million dollars worth of cocaine. Lt. Greg Mitchell from the Counter Narcotics Team said this is a major bust.

"Long-term investigations are a big deal," he said. "They require resources, manpower, lots of hours and funding from our agency and a lot of others."

Paledino, a computer lab teacher, is now behind bars. Police said Paledino, who has worked at the school for the past two years, is one of 12 people charged in this drug trafficking ring.

A spokesman for the Savannah-Chatham school district said that none of the alleged drug activity took place on school grounds, but that's not easing parents' concerns.

Lynda Mock has two kids who go to Charles Ellis and was in shock when she found out that police arrested Paledino. "It is very unnerving to know that something like that is going on, but at the same time, we know that those things are pervasive in any community," said Mock.

Mock said she feels like Paledino is just a bad apple among a really good group of teachers and she hopes this doesn't hurt the school's reputation.

"Charles Ellis is an exceptional school and for my kids I wouldn't have them go anywhere else," said Mock.

But Mock did say it was a tough situation to explain to her children.

"I tied to explain to him that, unfortunately sometimes people get caught up in these type of situations and they are never good situations, but we need to learn from that and try as best we can to keep kids away from that sort of thing," said Mock.

Paledino is being held in the Chatham County jail without bond. Her employment status will be reviewed by the superintendent, school board and school attorney over the next couple of days.

Reported by: Brooke Kelley, bkelley@wtoc.com

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