BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — A popular suburban high school teacher may be in detention for some time.
The 26-year-old is now suspended after police arrested him on charges including letting underage kids party at his home.
For Frank Melchiorre, the days of teaching are over, at least for now.
Former students like Alaina Newhouse said they’re stunned that the science teacher was hauled away from Governor Livingston High School by police, charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, providing alcohol to minors, and allowing minors to drink at his home.
“I guess I don’t want to believe it because we always thought he was such a great guy,” Newhouse told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey. “I wouldn’t have seen red flags.”
Authorities said Melchiorre used the his apartment in downtown Chatham as a hangout for minors, and people noticed.
One neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, noticed a lot of teens entering and leaving the apartment. When he asked Melchiorre about it, he said the teacher told him it was part of a tutoring program that was going very well.
Melchiorre was at his parents’ home Thursday night and ran inside when he saw reporters. Melchiorre and his parents declined to comment to CBS 2.
Melchiorre has a teacher appreciation page that has no members so far, but on another teaching Web site, one student wrote that Melchiorre was “extremely personable,” an “excellent teacher” and that “it is a shame about whatever happened, because many students will be missing out.”
“It’s extremely disturbing,” Alaina’s mother, Deborah Newhouse, said.
At Livingston High, most parents and teachers didn’t want to talk about what happened.
“I’m sure some of the students are in denial,” Alaina said. “It might be true. It might not be.”
What is true is the highly regarded teacher has taught students a lesson on the consequences of bad decisions.
The Berkeley Heights School District sent out a letter saying the teacher involved was suspended immediately, and further actions are likely to follow.