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School stunned after bizarre drug arrest of prep school headmaster

When they stepped inside the hotel room 13 miles east of Sacramento, deputies found the 54-year-old man reportedly surrounded by drugs and with a unconscious young woman.

The bust Oct. 3 took an even more bizarre twist when they found out who the man was: Thomas Woodrow Price, the headmaster of a prestigious private school nearly 100 miles away in Marin County.

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Price, known as Woody, was arrested and on Tuesday was charged with five felony drug counts, including possessing methamphetamine, according to Sacramento County Superior Court records. The woman in the hotel room with him was later identified as 21-year-old Brittney Hall. She was also arrested and charged with drug possession, according to media reports.

His arrest came as a shock to parents and staff at the Branson School in Ross.

"The news of Woody Price's arrest is so bizarre as to defy logical explanation. And I have none," David Golden, chairman of Branson's board of trustees, said in a statement on the school's website.

Price resigned soon after his arrest, apparently before school staff had a chance to talk to him.

Golden said that he is "confident that our greatest strength – the bonds between our faculty and students – will help us in the coming weeks and months as we work to heal the wounds that so many of us feel today."

Price had overseen operations at the prep school since 2006, becoming one of only nine headmasters since its founding in 1920.

Calls to Price were not returned.

He had been the headmaster at three different private schools before taking over Branson. Now Price is barred from the campus.

"First, security and safety is our main concern. Woody is not welcome on the campus and has been informed of that," Golden said. "We are hiring extra support in this area to protect students, faculty and administration from unwanted attention from strangers, from media or from former employees."

The school plans to appoint an interim headmaster within the next 60 days.

Price is expected to return to court Nov. 24.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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