LAPD probes drug sting run by school

Porter Middle School administrators believed a boy was dealing pot on campus. So they allegedly sent a student to buy some.

The sting worked -- to a point. The student successfully bought drugs and the administrators at the Granada Hills campus reported the incident to authorities.

But although Los Angeles Police Department officers are investigating the suspected marijuana dealer, they also are scrutinizing the three administrators who allegedly orchestrated the buy, said Michel Moore, an LAPD deputy chief, on Wednesday.

It is a felony to ask a minor to buy drugs.


The administrators have also been reassigned by the Los Angeles Unified School District to positions away from the Granada Hills campus, which was named a California Distinguished School in 2007, while the investigation is ongoing. In a letter to parents, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said the school’s principal, an assistant principal and dean had been removed.

Nobody has been arrested in the case, although the investigation is ongoing. The student who allegedly bought the drugs is not under criminal investigation, Moore said.

“We wouldn’t expect an administrator to act this way with a student,” he said.

A student told administrators Feb. 18 that a boy was selling marijuana on campus, according to police.

Three administrators, without consulting police or other Porter officials, then asked a student to purchase some drugs. Moore declined to say the amount of marijuana the student bought or how much he paid for it.

After the sting was completed, school officials then reported the incident to the district’s Police Department, which investigated the incident.

Once L.A. Unified officials realized that a student had been involved in the drug buy, they immediately removed the administrators from the campus.

City police began investigating the incident Monday.

The district will pursue all legal measures against the administrators if the allegations are true, said David Holmquist, the district’s chief operating officer, who said he had never heard of a similar situation.

“There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our students,” he said.

District officials also said Wednesday that four male Taft High School students have been suspended for their alleged hazing of other students in the locker room shower late last month.

District officials reassigned six administrators Tuesday for possibly not reporting the incident in a timely manner.

Police say the victims were allegedly held down by other students and assaulted. Investigators are still trying to determine whether they were injured.

District sources said some of the alleged suspects were members of the boys volleyball team.

Investigators also believe that the hazing in Woodland Hills might be part of a series of similar incidents, Moore said.

“Every time we pull one layer back, we find another layer,” he said.

The incident is similar to others in Ventura and Orange counties during the last dozen years in which student athletes were hazed as part of initiations.