When Mario Oscal was in Yvette Wright's economics class last
semester, he never would have guessed his eccentric teacher would be
arrested on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine.
Mario, 17, a senior at John Burroughs High School, said he and his
classmates liked Wright because of her "crazy, wild" behavior and
"Sometimes, she would randomly laugh in class or talk about one
subject and go right into another [with no transition]," he said. "I
just thought that she was weird, and that was part of her
Wright, 58, is facing possible drug charges after she was arrested
Thursday on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine. A school staffer
allegedly found the drug in Wright's purse after she left it in the
The case is under investigation by Burbank Police, Sgt. Brian
Matthews said. Wright is scheduled to be arraigned May 8 in Burbank
Wright has been on paid leave since the arrest, and a substitute
teacher has been covering her classes until the case is resolved.
Sandra Gale, whose daughter is a senior at the school, said a
teacher arrested on suspicion of drug use sends the worst possible
message to students.
"Kids look up to their teachers," Gale said. "And when their own
teachers are violating the law, the questions [parents] should be
asking are, 'Who is in charge of hiring?' and 'Are they qualified?' "
School officials, calling the incident "very unusual," said they
have been more active in their efforts to rid classrooms of drugs.
For example, a program began two months ago that uses K-9 dogs to
search for drugs and weapons, said Alexis Sheehy, assistant
superintendent for instruct- ional services at the Burbank Unified
However, neither the school nor the district has plans to change
its policies or operations in the wake of the arrest, she said.
"We're already taking really positive steps," Sheehy said. "In the
meantime, everyone is taken aback, and we hope this will turn out for
The school district gives pre-employment drug tests to new faculty
members. Wright was hired in 1991, before the policy was in place.
What perplexes most faculty members and students about Wright is
that she is a well-liked teacher and academic decathlon coach known
for her upbeat and encouraging teaching style.
"When I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke because Mrs.
Wright is not the type of person you expect to get arrested," said
Carla Lorenzo, 17, a senior who took Wright's economics class last
Kim Rizzo, 16, a junior, said the school's administration made no
announcement to the student body, but most everyone at school knew
about it by Friday.
"I was shocked, because I've never heard of teachers using drugs
before," Kim said.