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School principal arraigned after drug bust

The principal of a Santa Clara elementary school was arraigned Monday afternoon on charges of drug sales following his arrest over the weekend.

Eric Dean Lewis, the principal of Montague Elementary School, was referred to the public defender’s office after he did not enter a plea during his hearing. He is ordered to return to the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice this Friday.

California Department of Justice spokeswoman Michelle Gregory said Lewis, 42, was arrested Friday at a Caltrain station where he arranged to meet an undercover Mountain View police officer he met through an online dating website that he allegedly used.

According to police reports, from the Santa Clara County Specialized Enforcement Team, an anonymous tipster informed the officer that Lewis was selling meth in San Jose and San Francisco.

The officer, through an alias, contacted Lewis last Tuesday via the online dating site, where the principal wrote:

“Let’s kick it n (sic) blow someclouds.”

The officer said “blowing clouds” is slang for smoking methamphetamine.

The police reports said, Lewis texted about meth from his workplace, and was supposed to meet with the officer at a San Jose hotel, but preferred to make the exchange in San Francisco. That Thursday, the officer secured a search warrant for Lewis’ car and home.

Lewis, who has been principal at Montague for seven years, was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of having methamphetamine for sale and offering to furnish narcotics.

Court documents also show that Lewis faces a lesser charge of having an opium pipe.

Following Lewis’ arrest, investigators searched his San Francisco home and found a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine, drug scales and an undetermined amount of Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid, or GHB. They also seized Lewis’ computer and some unidentified pills.

Dr. Bobbie Plough, superintendent for the Santa Clara Unified School District, said that Lewis’ arrest has no connection to the school or its students.

Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Unified School District, said Lewis was immediately placed on unpaid administrative leave following his arrest.

Like many parents and faculty, Hurley said she was shocked to hear about the arrest:

“He was well regarded in this community, (and) he’s done a good job at this school.”

Plough said that veteran elementary school teacher and curriculum developer Barbara Friedenbach has been appointed interim principal.

Friedenbach, who has been with the school district for more than 15 years, issued a statement Monday on the school’s website, stating that despite the events that transpired over the weekend:

“… the students and staff at Montague quickly returned to their focus on teaching and learning. We had a good school day and I am sure (we) are set for many more as we go through the year.”

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