WATERFORD — A former science teacher at Fox River Middle School has been sentenced to 18 months of probation for stealing three students’ prescription pills and replacing them with over-the-counter medicine.
Kevin S. Brodzik, 40, of Palmyra, pleaded guilty to three counts of misdemeanor theft on Monday, according to court documents obtained by The Journal Times.
A Waterford Police investigation found that Brodzik went into the school nurse’s office shortly before 6 a.m. on Jan. 2, despite having been told in 2018 not to go in the office without supervision after he was caught tampering with the box that contains student prescriptions, according to a criminal complaint.
The next day, a then-13-year-old student refused to take his pill because he noticed it was larger than normal. The school called the student’s mother, Miki Cairo, who discovered the Ritalin pills in her son’s prescription bottle were replaced with 200-mg caffeine pills, records show.
On Jan. 4, the district sent a note to district parents that read, in part: “On January 3rd, 2019, Waterford Graded School District Administration was informed of a possible theft of student medication at Fox River Middle School. An employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”
Ten days later, another mother came forward to say her son’s attention deficit hyperactivity disorder pills were missing from the pill bottle she left at the school on Nov. 1, 2018. The pills had been replaced with smaller, unmarked white pills, the criminal complaint says.
That mother’s son has “numerous health problems” and was slated for an open-heart surgery, the complaint says. The son had to undergo blood work to get back to the proper prescription levels in his body, the complaint says.
Theft from co-worker
Another teacher at the school reported in February that she believed her son’s Ritalin had been tampered with since February 2018, the complaint says. In April 2018, low-dose aspirin pills were found in the prescription bottle. The teacher got her son a new prescription and found the pills were switched again several days later, according to the complaint.
In September 2018, the bottle was gone completely; three months later, the teacher reportedly found Brodzik digging through her car, which he had borrowed a few times, she told police.
On Feb. 12, the teacher confronted Brodzik after learning of the allegations. He brought his children over to play with hers, and when she asked directly about her son’s switched pills, Brodzik responded: “I don’t know if I can or should answer that. I guess I plead the Fifth (Amendment),” the complaint says.
Brodzik then got up and went to the bathroom. After he left, the teacher checked her son’s pill bottle in the bathroom medicine cabinet and found the pills had been swapped for low-dose aspirin, the complaint says.
While the child’s prescription was swapped for the aspirin, he reportedly suffered nosebleeds until he was back on the Ritalin.
Resignation and punishment
Brodzik submitted a letter of resignation to the Waterford Graded School District Board of Education on Jan. 14, according to meeting records. He surrendered his teaching license on July 31, according to Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction records.
“The safety and security of our students and staff are always the top priority of the Waterford Graded School District … The District took the report very seriously, conducted an investigation, and took appropriate action,” Superintendent Ed Brzinski wrote Tuesday in an emailed statement. “Mr. Brodzik was not around students once the incident was reported to the District, and he is no longer employed by the District.”
He declined to comment further.
Brodzik enrolled in a substance-abuse counseling program on Jan. 15 and completed his final session on May 14, according to court documents.
“Mr. Brodzik has been very cooperative and has worked through some initial denial related to his substance use and is now in remission from all substance use,” Brodzik’s counselor wrote in a Sept. 13 letter filed in court.
But Miki Cairo said she was appalled that Brodzik reportedly stole the other teacher’s son’s Ritalin on Feb. 12, almost a month after he entered treatment.
Racine County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Boyle on Monday sentenced Brodzik to 18 months of probation and 100 hours of community service, records show. If Brodzik violates his probation conditions, he would face 60 days in jail for each theft count.
Miki Cairo in an interview said she felt betrayed and that her son “feels really hurt, because this was his favorite teacher.” She also called into question why Brodzik did not face further charges such as child endangerment.
“He’s obviously a danger to children,” she said. “This man has absolutely no regard for these children.”
“The safety and security of our students and staff are always the top priority of the Waterford Graded School District. …The District took the report very seriously, conducted an investigation, and took appropriate action.” Superintendent Ed Brzinski
“The safety and security of our students and staff are always the top priority of the Waterford Graded School District. …The District took the report very seriously, conducted an investigation, and took appropriate action.”
Superintendent Ed Brzinski
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