New Paltz Board of Education President Don Kerr will resign from the school board amid a swirl of controversy over his potential involvement in a marijuana sting operation.
Kerr, 52, of Millrock Road, was arrested last week and charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a Class D felony. New Paltz Police Department officials said that they made the arrest in as part of a joint investigation with the United States Postal Inspection Service to ferret out pot delivered by mail.
According to the police, Kerr accepted a package that contained 8 pounds of high quality marijuana, with a street value of $32,000. New Paltz Police Department’s K-9 Unit also played a role in the arrest, since police dog Rex identified the package as containing weed – allowing the cops to ask for a warrant.
Arrested at approximately 6 p.m. on Nov. 4, Kerr has already been arraigned by the Town of New Paltz Justice Jonathan Katz and released to return for a Nov. 9 court date in New Paltz.
For the NPPD, the drug bust is the second big payoff for their weed-through-the-mail sting operation with the Postal Service. In late October, police arrested Jarred Spindel, 29, in a similar sting and charged him with criminal possession of marijuana. During the earlier drug bust, $50,000 worth of weed was confiscated by the police.
School board President Kerr has faced misdemeanor drug charges before, stemming from a 2008 arrest and a 1999 arrest for driving under the influence and misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. However, Kerr ultimately accepted a plea deal in the 2008 case that dropped DUI and marijuana possession charges if he pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
In 2010, when the case went to court, angry parents flocked to Board of Education meetings to ask that he resign. Supporters of Kerr’s presidency also showed up, praising his work and acknowledging the ruling of the court.
Kerr’s defenders pointed out his work at Wet-Tek to make simple water filtration systems to benefit the citizens of the Third World. The president has also been a staunch advocate of public access Channel 23 on Time Warner Cable, and he has volunteered his time to make sure that local government meetings get on the air.
School board members at that time said they had no power to remove Kerr from office because the courts had not found him guilty of a drug charge. Kerr stayed on the board and was elected to another term as president.
New Paltz school Superintendent Maria Rice declined to comment when asked about the charge. However, school board Vice President KT Tobin did confirm that he would step down.
“He’s resigning today, effective immediately,” Tobin said.
Phone calls to Don Kerr seeking comment for the story were not immediately returned.
Read the print edition of the New Paltz Times later this week for the full story.