BERLIN - A local man who is facing more than a dozen drug charges after his home was raided by police Sept. 13 has worked as a substitute teacher in the town’s schools, officials confirmed.
Charles Matlack, 27, first came under suspicion in July when an anonymous source called police to report Matlack was growing marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms at his home.
Officers who checked out the house could see a marijuana plant growing in a planter outside the house. Detectives sifted through his garbage, finding items used to process and sell drugs, including burnt scraps of aluminum foil, which are commonly used to smoke heroin or crack cocaine or make concentrated marijuana, the report said.
Police showed up at the house Sept. 13 to confront Matlack about the plants growing outside, the report said. His mother at first claimed the plants were hers used by her for pain management.
But her son then claimed responsibility. He later said he had post-traumatic stress disorder, which was why he was growing the plants.
Inside the house, police found a mushroom-growing operation, three rifles and a handgun. Matlack’s mother told police her son was a teacher and the mushrooms were a “science experiment.” She admitted that he was selling marijuana to a small group of friends.
The police report indicates that Matlack and his mother were concerned about his possible arrest, since he was seeking “employment as a substitute teacher in four area school districts.”
Police found $13,000 to $15,000 worth of drugs in the house.
Matlack was arrested on 17 charges, including two counts of operating a drug factory, cultivation of over one kilogram of marijuana, possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school and cultivation of a hallucinogenic substance. He was released on $50,000 non-surety bond.
Matlack was a substitute teacher in the Berlin school district, hired in 2015, but had not taught there since last year, according to School Superintendent David Erwin. With a preference to teach at the secondary level, but available to teach at all schools in the district, he recently withdrew his name from the as-needed call list, Erwin added.
The district has about 80 substitute teachers on call and through a service called AESOP, which procures substitutes, Erwin estimated, with each sub going through a process consisting of an interview and Department of Children and Families check.
Recently a law was passed requiring districts to check references if a candidate has worked with children before, along with a fingerprint background check, Erwin said. Nothing came up as a red flag for Matlack, he added, “otherwise he wouldn’t be a sub.”
Erwin said a message should be sent out to parents in the district soon explaining what happened.
“It’s unfortunate but we do our diligence when we hire people on,” said Erwin. “The man has to go through what he has to go through, but we follow procedure.”
He added that current subs will not be re-evaluated, as the district follows the vetting procedures and protocol correctly when hiring them, as it did when hiring Matlack.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.