Updated 

Reinstated teacher again suspended after drug arrest


So much for second chances.

A disgraced Clark County School District teacher who was fired several years ago but recently won his job back in arbitration was sent home from Bonanza High School on Friday after officials learned he faces felony drug trafficking charges.

John Mannion, 54, was arrested in July after authorities said he sold the prescription painkiller Oxycontin to an undercover Las Vegas police detective.

He also admitted to smoking methamphetamine after detectives found 0.8 grams of it in a black bag next to a glass pipe on his bedside table, according to a police report.

District officials did not find out about the July arrest until Thursday, a few weeks after Mannion returned to work. He had taught physical education at Bonanza since March 4.

School District spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said Mannion on Friday was suspended with pay, but that status is temporary. Mannion has a meeting scheduled with administrators next week. Afterward, he probably will be suspended without pay.

Mannion was fired several years ago after a 2009 arrest on theft charges and has spent the past four years trying to clear his name.

Then a teacher and varsity football coach at Coronado High School, Mannion was accused of stealing about $17,000 in booster donations between July 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009.

Officials at Coronado became suspicious after students found a bag containing more than $5,000 in cash behind a bookshelf in the coach’s office.

Prosecutors said Mannion mishandled funds by not immediately giving the money to the school banker but were unable to prove that he took the missing cash.

After criminal charges were dismissed in February 2011, Mannion challenged his firing. An arbitrator ruled in his favor in February 2012. It took another year for Mannion to sort out his teacher licensing issues and for the district to find him a new school.

The drug trafficking arrest in the midst of his appeal apparently went unnoticed. Authorities allege he sold drugs to a detective on three occasions: July 6 for $120, July 13 for $120 and July 25 for $1,000.

Neither police nor the district attorney’s office alerted school officials about the arrest, possibly because they didn’t know Mannion was a school district employee.

According to his arrest report, Mannion told detectives he started selling drugs because he had lost his teaching job and couldn’t pay his mortgage.

But Fulkerson said that he had known for almost five months about the arbitrator’s decision and that he would be returning to teaching.

“In February of 2012, the employee was formally informed that he not only remained a Clark County School District employee but was also going back to a teaching position,” Fulkerson said.

Mannion was required to self-report the arrest, but he never did, Fulkerson said. And because Mannion never technically lost his job, a new background check was not required before he was placed at Bonanza.

Fulkerson said Mannion never lost his health benefits during his years-long suspension.

In each drug deal, police said, Mannion met the detective at a Walgreens less than a mile from his home.

In 1988, he was indicted by a federal grand jury in Utah for drug trafficking. He pleaded guilty to the charge and served more than a year in prison for possessing 8 ounces of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

Within three months of his release, Mannion was hired as a Clark County School District custodian. Starting in 1991, he worked his way from custodian to coach and taught classes in wood shop and weight lifting.

Mannion, who could not be reached Friday, discussed his conviction during a 2009 interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

He said he was addicted to cocaine at the time of his conviction. He said during the interview that he had not used drugs since then and that the conviction saved his life.

“I did everything in my power to put that behind me,” Mannion said in 2009. “It’s the only time in my life I’ve been arrested.”

His parents, Jack and Terry Mannion, were longtime district employees. Mannion Middle School in Henderson was named in their honor.

Jack Mannion was a coach, a teacher and an assistant principal. Terry Mannion was a teacher, a dean, a principal and an assistant superintendent.

John Mannion’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 17 in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.

 

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