School board to hold meeting Tuesday to discuss principal's arrest

Tuesday, August 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WATTS, Okla. (AP) -- One of the first challenges in Rita Bunch's tenure as school superintendent of this small northeast Oklahoma farming community came during a newscast Sunday night.

State narcotics agents and local lawmen had arrested Watts High School Principal Joe Weaver and his wife, Carol, on drug complaints after the couple returned from a teacher conference Bunch also had attended.

"My first thought when I heard the news Sunday night was for our students. They have questions, and they are curious," Bunch said Monday.

Some of those questions could come up Tuesday night, when the Watts school board meets to discuss Weaver's arrest.

The couple was released on bond Monday after being booked into the Delaware County Jail on complaints of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled dangerous substance, marijuana, officials said. They are scheduled to make an initial court appearance Wednesday.

Weaver's 26-year-old nephew, Shane, was arrested on complaints of possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. His bail was set at $5,000 for possession and $1,000 for possession of paraphernalia.

Agents with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs allegedly saw marijuana plants in the Weavers' yard at their Cleora residence on the north end of Grand Lake, investigators Mike Wilkerson said.

The bureau does a "fly by" of the county each year to try to locate illegal crops, Wilkerson said. Officials also allegedly found a bag of marijuana in the couple's house, he said.

During a search of the property, a drug task force allegedly discovered one marijuana plant that measured over 7 feet tall and about 4 feet in diameter.

"The marijuana plant was very well taken care of," said Danny Green with the drug task force. "Near the plant was a water source and plant food."

Besides being superintendent, Weaver, 47, coordinates the drug prevention program at Watts High School, which has 119 students.

Bunch declined to say whether Weaver was suspended. He's been with the school district since the late 1980s and has been high school principal for the past eight years.

Mrs. Weaver, 49, is a fifth-grade language arts teacher in Afton, a community in Ottawa County. Afton's school superintendent, Randy Gardner, had no comment about Mrs. Weaver's arrest. School officials confirmed that she did not teach on Monday.

As for Bunch, she was recently hired as superintendent but has been with the district for more than a decade.

"This is my first year as superintendent, and it's quite a shock."