A former guidance counselor at a junior high school in Kensington has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors by handing out marijuana and hashish to at least 50 students on a regular basis during school hours, Montgomery County police reported yesterday.
Melvin Charles Holober, 59, a former musician who has been a teacher and guidance counselor in the county's schools since 1959, was arrested Wednesday at his home, 1102 Linden Ave., Takoma Park, and later released on his own recognizance, according to police spokesman Cpl. Philip B. Caswell.
Holober had resigned from the school system last Friday after being placed on administrative leave May 24.
Caswell said Holober occasionally smoked marijuana cigarettes with students over the last two years in his office at Newport Junior High School. There is no evidence Holober ever tried to sell marijuana or hashish to students, Caswell said.
William E. Smallwood, Holober's attorney, said he expects his client to plead innocent. The case will eventually be heard by Juvenile Court authorities, since the charge involves the alleged corruption of minors, Caswell said.
The arrest of Holober, a World War II veteran who holds a master's degree from George Washington University, came after two-month investigation conducted jointly by Montgomery County police and school officials, according to Caswell.
The investigation began after the parents of one female ninth grade student complained to school officials about Holober and the officials about Holober and the officials notified police, according to Kenneth E. Muir, Montgomery County school spokesman.
In the course of the investigation, written statements were obtained from four girls about Holober, Muir said.
Holober could not be reached for comment.
At Newport Junior High, 11311 Newport Mill Rd., Kensington, the student grapevine brought news of holober's arrest to students yesterday, even before police had made their offical announcement.
"He's a really nice guy, very quiet and helpful," said Marty Davis, 15, a ninth grader who said Holober had been his guidance counselor for the past two years. "We'd go to him and talk about things, grades, girls, what you wer going to do on Friday nights," he said.
Davis said he had never heard of Holober's alleged connections to marijuana and hashish distribution until word of the arrest "got around the school today."
Davis said that last year Holober had took a group of the students he counseled to see the movie "The Hindenburg." "He told us that two of his best friends were killed right before his eyes," Davis recalled.
A ninth grade student who refused to give her name said that Holober had led a group of girl students on a Saturday afternoon picnic last year where "we played softball and ate hot dogs. He was really OK. He helped me when I had a problem with math," she said.
Holober received a bachelor's degree in 1940 and a master's degree in 1963, both from George Washington University, Muir said school records show. He worked in the Arlington school system as an elementary school teacher and instructor of the handicapped from 1950 to 1959, according to Muir.
Holober joined the Montgomery County school system in 1959, working as a special education teacher or guidance counselor at Broome Junior High, Pyle Junior High and, finally, in 1972, joining the faculty of Newport Junior High School as one of three guidance counselors, Muir said.