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Elementary School Principal Busted with Methamphetamine for Sale

Contra Costa Times, September 24, 2012

SANTA CLARA -- The principal of a Santa Clara elementary school faces drug sales charges after investigators found a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine at his San Francisco home, authorities said Sunday.

Agents arrested Eric Dean Lewis, 42, principal of Montague Elementary, on Friday. The arrest occurred at a Caltrain station where Lewis had arranged to meet an undercover agent he contacted through a gay dating website, said California Department of Justice spokeswoman Michelle Gregory.

Lewis, principal at the school on Laurie Avenue for the past seven years, was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of having methamphetamine for sale and offering to furnish narcotics.

Santa Clara Unified School District officials said they are shocked at the arrest of the "well-regarded" employee and have placed him on unpaid administrative leave. Lewis could not be reached for comment.

An unfortunate, poetic posting to students and parents happened to appear Sunday on Lewis' school's website: The "Principal's Message" stated, "At the end of the day be ready to say I'm proud of what I did today!"

Police began investigating Lewis after getting a tip that he was involved in drugs, said Gregory. That tip led to an undercover officer to start chatting with Lewis on a gay dating website. The principal allegedly offered narcotics, though it was unclear what type, to the agent, who agreed to come to Lewis' home for a date, Gregory said.

It was not immediately clear at which Caltrain station they were to meet, but Lewis lives in San Francisco.

After authorities arrested Lewis, they searched his house and reported that they found a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine, drug scales and an undetermined amount of GHB, the nightlife intoxicant. They also reportedly found unidentified pills that are still undergoing testing. Police also seized Lewis' computer.

Santa Clara Unified Superintendent Dr. Bobbie Plough said the arrest comes without warning for the district and has no connection to students at Montague.

"The community felt he was well-regarded," Plough said. "It's very much a shock."

Plough said Barbara Friedenbach has been appointed interim principal of Montague and added "our first concern is for students, staff and families."