July 1, 2016

Partly sunny

Marijuana allegedly grown at teacher’s house

MEDINA — A Claggett Middle School math teacher resigned Friday after she was accused of allowing her husband to grow marijuana at their Litchfield Township home.

Katie Hill-Asaro, 27, of 8453 Spieth Road, was charged last month with permitting her husband, Vito Asaro, to cultivate and sell marijuana.

Katie Hill-Asaro

Vito Asaro

It’s the second time within a year that a Medina middle school teacher has been charged with growing marijuana at home.

Medina Schools interim Superintendent Dave Knight said the school board will accept her resignation at Monday’s meeting.

“It’s discouraging when something like this happens,” he said. “Rest assured, this will be resolved soon and it won’t drag on.”

The investigation into Hill-Asaro and her husband was launched after an undercover agent reported purchasing marijuana from Asaro on July 24 while at the Spieth Road home the couple shared, Medina County Drug Task Force Director Gary Hubbard said.

“We started an investigation because we believed someone was growing marijuana at the home,” he said. “We got enough information to get a search warrant and executed the warrant.”

Task force members searched the home Aug. 14 and reported finding 28 plants growing on the 4-acre property.

According to the Medina County Auditor’s Office, Hill-Asaro purchased the home in May.

Hubbard said Hill-Asaro was cooperative with law enforcement during the search of the property and the arrest.

“I think she understands the seriousness of the charges against her,” he said.

A Medina County grand jury indicted Hill-Asaro on a count of permitting drug abuse — a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to a year in prison and a $7,500 fine.

Her husband was indicted on cultivation of marijuana and drug trafficking charges, fifth-degree felonies.

Hill-Asaro is scheduled to appear for an arraignment Friday morning in Common Pleas Judge James Kimbler’s court.

She and her husband are free on bond.

Knight said Hill-Asaro began teaching eighth-grade math at Claggett in September 2009 but was laid off at the end of the year because of budget cutbacks.

Knight said she was brought back for the 2012-13 school year and served well.

“She’s had a good performance review, and we were glad to have her back after she was laid off for two years,” he said. “We were greatly surprised by the arrest.”

Knight said because Hill-Asaro was arrested the week before school started, the district put her on paid administrative leave and were able to hire a long-term substitute to take her place.

“We were able to find a very good substitute who could jump in at the last minute and fill her role,” he said.

Knight acknowledged having two teachers charged with marijuana cultivation within a year was unusual.

“We have over 760 staff members and people make bad decisions,” he said. “It’s just very regrettable that those people around them are negatively impacted by those decisions.”

In January, A.I. Root Middle School teacher Shannon Briggs pleaded no contest in Elyria Municipal Court to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct persisting and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She was given a suspended jail sentence, fined $500 and ordered to undergo substance abuse treatment and placed on probation for a year.

Her husband, Matthew Briggs, was charged with felony cultivation of marijuana after police reported discovering marijuana plants and pipes in the couple’s North Ridgeville home. The case is pending in Lorain County Common Pleas Court.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.