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Springboro teacher in drug case among ‘most admired and respected’ in district

Amy Panzeca’s personnel file paints a picture of an exemplary and dedicated teacher.

Nothing foretells her arrest this week on drug charges nor the letter sent Wednesday from her employer, Springboro Community Schools. It stated:

"Effective immediately and until further notice, you are hereby placed on paid administrative leave pending the resolution of your pending legal circumstances."

Her base salary was $72,623 in 2016, according to the Dayton Daily News I-Team's Payroll Project. 

RELATED: Police build drug case against Springboro teacher and son by stopping cars in Settlers Walk

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Panzeca, 48, and her 15-year-old son were arrested Monday night, and both were in court Tuesday. Panzeca pleaded not guilty to felony permitting drug use and misdemeanor charges of endangering children and contributing to the unruliness of a minor. 

Court documents allege Panzeca allowed the sale and use of drugs, including LSD and marijuana, in her Christman Drive home in Springboro's Settlers Walk neighborhood. 

"She was aware that drug trafficking was going on and was aware that drug use was going on and was aware of that fact for several months," Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said earlier this week of Panzeca and her son. "This juvenile was trafficking LSD to somewhere between 20 and 30 students, most of whom attended Springboro High School." 

RELATED: Teacher’s home on Christman Drive raided by drug task force

There was no activity Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, around Amy Panzeca's home in the first block of Christman Drive in the Settlers Walk neighborhood of Springboro. The home was raided May 19, 2017, by the Warren County Drug Task Force. (MARK GOKAVI / STAFF)

A year before her home was raided in May by a Warren County drug task force, Panzeca received a much different letter from the district. The April 2016 letter was to inform her of a nomination for the prestigious EPIC (Engage, Prepare, Inspire and Challenge) Teaching Award. Nominations come from parents, staff, alumni and community members. Although Panzeca did not receive the award, the letter included in her personnel file stated the nomination "places you among the most admired and respected educators in our district." 

Panzeca first joined the district at Clearcreek Elementary School for the 1994-95 academic year, when she was known by her maiden name Amy Arnold. 

RELATED: Teachers in trouble: 5 times allegations levied at area teachers

Throughout her 23-year career at Springboro Schools, she taught fifth, sixth and eighth grades. She spent the most number of years teaching fifth-graders, most recently at Five Points Elementary School. 

Evaluations showed Panzeca was a highly competent teacher; she had a good rapport with her students; and she planned engaging lessons for her classroom. In July 2003, she earned a permanent teaching license for first through eighth grades by the Ohio Department of Education. 

At different points in her career, Panzeca served as the head junior high cheerleading coach; vice president of the teachers union, Springboro Education Association; and as a mentor teacher. 

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Before she was offered a full-time position at Springboro Schools, the Miami University graduate worked as a substitutue teacher for Springboro Schools and several Butler County school districts, including Fairfield City, Lakota Local and Ross Local schools, according to Panzeca's employment application. 

Springboro school officials said a permanent substitue would take over Panzeca's classroom duties for this academic year, and that parents of affected students were to be notified. At the same time Panzeca was placed on leave, her name was pulled from the district’s online staff directory.

She is scheduled to appear Aug. 31 in court.

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