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Update: District Poised to Fire Former Elizabeth Avenue Elementary School Assistant Principal Following Hunterdon County Drug Arrest

John Norton

John Norton
Photo: N.J. State Police

The former assistant principal of Elizabeth Avenue Elementary School was going to be fired had he not resigned on Dec. 8, according to the district schools Superintendent.

John Norton notified the district on Dec. 8 that he would be resigning his position for “personal reasons,” and sent in a  letter stating the same on Dec. 9, district spokeswoman Mary Clark said. He was arrested later that day on charges of selling methamphetamine from his Bound Brook home, according to the N.J. State Police.

Superintendent Edward Seto said after the Dec. 12 Board of Education meeting that the district received a letter on Dec. 5 from the state Department of Education stating that Norton, Elizabeth Avenue’s assistant principal since August 2012, was “arrested for something that would disqualify him from employment.”

Seto said the letter did not specify what that infraction was, but a press release issued Dec. 3 from the Raritan Township Police Department said that Norton had been arrested on Nov. 29 on charges of driving under the influence of narcotics and possession of methamphetamine.

The police report listed Norton’s home as Palisades Park; in a report published in the Hunterdon Democrat, Norton’s attorney, Richard Sparaco of Cherry Hill, confirmed Norton’s identity.

Seto said that because of the arrest, the district would have been required “to take action and terminate” Nort0n.

“There’s a requirement that when an employee gets arrested for something, he’s supposed to report it to us,” Seto said. “He didn’t.”

The Democrat story also noted that Norton was arrested on drug charges in November 2012 in Middlesex County, but a municipal court judge in Piscataway gave him a one-year discharge conditioned on Norton not being arrested again in that time period.

Seto and board president Julia Presley said the district did not know of the 2012 arrest.

Seto said the arrest did not come up in Norton’s criminal background check, which is overseen by the state DOE.

“The state was also not aware of this,” Presley said. “The employee did not disclose the arrest.”

The school board accepted Norton’s resignation at the Dec. 12 meeting with no discussion.

Norton remains in the Somerset County Jail, Somerville, in lieu of $100,000 cash-only bail after the Dec. 9 arrest on charges that he was selling drugs from his Bound Brook home.

Norton was arrested by N.J. State Police detectives – following a one-month investigation – after he was allegedly seen conducting a drug transaction outside his Mountain Avenue home, police said.

Police said Norton was seen conducting the transaction at about 7:30 p.m., after which he was arrested.

While in Norton’s home, Troopers found a partially clothed, unresponsive man who was vomiting. Bound Brook EMS and Somerset Medical Center paramedics responded and transported the man to Somerset Medical Center, Somerville, police said.

Police found more than four ounces of crystal methamphetamine and 36 ounces of GHB, the street value of which was placed at $15,000.

Police also seized drug paraphernalia and more than $4,000 in cash, they said.

Norton was charged with Possession of a Controlled and Dangerous Substance, and Distribution of a CDS, police said.

State Police said the case will be handled by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.

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