Rally shows support of accused teacher

February 20, 2009 4:15:38 PM PST
Students and colleagues showed their support for a teacher accused of drug possession at Roberts Elementary School in southwest Houston. Her arrest was the result of random drug searches throughout the school district that they say have gone too far.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The rally comes at the same time the district is ending its drug crackdown in random employee parking lots. A grand jury will decide whether to indict Mindy Herrick on drug charges after police say they found two Xanax pills in her vehicle. With her career on the line, she denies the pills belong to her.

They call what happened to their beloved art teacher a travesty and Friday outside Roberts Elementary dozens put on a tremendous show of support for Herrick -- the likes of which this school in its 73 year history has never seen before.

Student Caitlin Berg said, "We decided to have a rally and it's really cool. I really wanted to have it because we have to show that we need her back."

Last month, during a random sweep, drug dogs discovered two Xanax pills in Herrick's vehicle parked at school. She was arrested and charged. Her attorney contends the district was so caught up in its zero tolerance policy that it never took the time to find out whether the pills were hers.

"We don't know where they came from but we know where the pills did not come from. They did not come from her," insisted attorney Kent Schaffer.

The district attorney's told Eyewitness News that regardless of the number of pills, it plans to move forward and present the case to a grand jury, unless Herrick enters a plea.

The response to Herrick's arrest has been overwhelming. Students, in addition to circulating a petition, have helped raise nearly $10,000 for a defense fund.

Parent Beth Brown said, "She has done so many incredible things, not just for my kids but for all these kids, and it's wrong. It's wrong on so many levels that this has happened."

Superintendent Dr. Abe Saavedra suggested Herrick could return to the classroom if a grand jury fails to indict her. That's something her students and supporters are hoping for.

"I want her to know that I love her and I wish that she'd come back soon," said student Keaton Brown.

The rally comes at the same time that HISD is ending the random drug searches.

"We have now done enough searches to determine that HISD does not have a widespread problem," said HISD spokesperson Norm Uhl.

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