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Evidence of meth use closes West Virginia technical school

By Steven Allen Adams

CHARLESTON, W., Virginia (Reuters) - A West Virginia high school has been closed and its principal and a teacher arrested after officials discovered traces of methamphetamine in the building, authorities said on Wednesday.

Principal Keith Phipps and teacher Jack Turley of the Boone County Career and Technical Center are accused of manufacturing and purchasing material used to make methamphetamine last spring, and both were suspended, said Jeff Huffman, assistant superintendent of Boone County, West Virginia, schools.

Huffman said the methamphetamine traces were a result of the illegal stimulant, which is frequently homemade, being smoked at school, and authorities do not believe the drug was manufactured at the school.

The use of methamphetamine, which can cause brain damage and violent behavior, has ravaged many rural communities.

The drug traces were discovered through testing by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

"Based on the amount of residue found, we felt it was in the best interests of employees and students to go ahead and close the facility while we continue to complete our testing and begin the required remediation process for various parts of the facility," Huffman said.

Had the methamphetamine been made at the school, he added, "The readings from the test results would be much, much greater."

The school, which serves as many as 450 students during the regular school year, will remain closed indefinitely.

School officials plan to meet on Thursday to design a plan for decontaminating the building and putting a contract for the work out for bidding.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)

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