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ST. JOHN — A Lake Central High School teacher, who was arrested last week after a video of her allegedly doing drugs in an empty classroom went viral, has been formally charged with possession of a controlled substance, a level 6 felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class C misdemeanor.

Samantha Cox, 24, of Cedar Lake, was removed from the classroom Nov. 22 and held at the Lake County Jail until she posted a $10,000 bond later that same day.

She has been placed on paid administrative leave from Lake Central, school officials said.

The teacher allegedly told police after her arrest she purchased $160 worth of cocaine that morning before coming to school, according to court records released Monday by the Lake County Prosecutor's Office. 

Cox told police she usually purchased "dope" after school, but was feeling sick that morning, records state. She said she had used cocaine for four years, since her freshman year at college. 

Cox said she snorted the cocaine at 10:20 a.m. while alone in her classroom, records state. She said the door was locked, but students must have seen her through the door window. 

Samantha Cox

Samantha Cox

Authorities learned about the drug use after someone took video of Cox in an empty classroom and posted that video online. The footage spread quickly on the internet.

The information was brought to the attention of school administration by student witnesses, and school administrators notified the St. John Police Department. 

A detective was dispatched to the school at noon and requested help from a drug-sniffing dog, records state. 

The dog alerted to the teacher's desk, where police located a plastic cigarette wrapper filled with rolled up pieces of tin foil, records state. Police also found a piece of paper wrapped up like a straw.

Cox allowed police to search her vehicle, where they found a glass pipe and multiple small pieces of tin foil, torn plastic baggies and two rolled up pieces of paper, according to records.

The records state Cox was polite and cooperative throughout the incident. 

Lake Central schools Superintendent Larry Veracco said Monday that Cox was in her second year as a teacher at the high school. She taught English 10 and 11. She was hired in 2016, soon after graduating from Purdue University Northwest in May.

"She was popular with the students," Veracco said. "She did her student teaching at Lake Central High School, then we hired her.

"It's a sad situation. We are happy that we got her removed from the classroom very quickly after being tipped off by a student. But we are also concerned about her welfare, too. She seemed to be a very good teacher," Veracco said.

Cox graduated from Hanover Central High School in 2012 and was the salutatorian. She attended Purdue University Calumet, now known as Purdue University Northwest, graduating in May 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English and concentration in English teaching.

Times staff writer Sarah Reese contributed to this report.


Education reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.