Substitute teacher at Northgate arrested for heroin on the job

Ross man faces drug charges

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A Bellevue police officer assigned to Northgate Middle/High School notified parents Friday of an incident earlier this week in which a substitute teacher came to class allegedly high on heroin.

Borough police arrested Christopher A. Chiappetta, 26, on Wednesday after they found him asleep at his desk shortly before noon and said they discovered he had been carrying heroin, which police believe he snorted during the planning period before the class.

Mr. Chiappetta, of Ross, remains in the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bond on charges of drug possession, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and endangering the welfare of children.

No attorney was listed in court records. Reached by phone, his parents had no comment.

Borough Sgt. Michael Hudson, the school resource officer, said he called or left messages on Friday with parents of all 10 students in the art class. On Thursday, he returned to the class and spoke directly with the students, a mix of freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

"Everyone had a sense of disbelief about what happened," Sgt. Hudson said. "They just assumed he was sleeping."

The parents he spoke with before noon Friday said they didn't feel their children were victimized, Sgt. Hudson said. If none of the students agrees to testify, he added, the endangerment charge likely will be dropped at the Oct. 31 preliminary hearing.

Sgt. Hudson said it took "a couple of stiff shakes" from principal Bryan Kyle to rouse Mr. Chiappetta, who was disorientated and had glassy eyes, pinpoint pupils and an unsteady gait, he wrote in a criminal complaint.

Mr. Chiappetta denied medical problems. Sgt. Hudson wrote that he noticed what looked to be a scabbed-over needle mark on Mr. Chiappetta's arm, but Mr. Chiappetta also denied using heroin.

After the room was cleared, Mr. Chiappetta dropped a stamp bag of heroin, police said, and was placed under arrest. Mr. Kyle found three other stamp bags on him, the sergeant said, and police later found marijuana and blunt wrappers in his vehicle.

Court records show this wasn't Mr. Chiappetta's first drug offense.

Earlier this year, a judge ordered him to complete a 15-month Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program that allows first-time offenders to have their charges withdrawn if they meet certain requirements. He was charged with DUI in November 2012 and police said then that they found a small amount of suspected pot and a pipe in his pocket.

In documents related to that case, Mr. Chiappetta wrote that he earned a master's degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., and also attended Slippery Rock University. He listed Career Connections Charter High School in Lawrenceville under the employment section. An official there said he had been a sub but was not employed at the school.

Northgate superintendent Joseph Pasquerilla said Mr. Chiappetta had worked as a sub in the district "a couple of times," via a substitute-teacher service, which could not be reached.

He said he consulted with school officials and they concluded: "Let's make this a teachable moment about the unfortunate things that happen to folks that have drug addiction."

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Molly Born:, 412-262-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. First Published October 18, 2013 8:00 PM


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