FORT WORTH - Prosecutors have dismissed the drug case against a high school science teacher after determining police lacked probable cause to enter his garage where marijuana was found.
Philip Blake Sills, 45, has been on paid leave since his November felony arrest after Fort Worth police entered his unlocked garage while chasing a truancy suspect.
After finding "large green leafy plants hanging from the rafters," police obtained a search warrant and found more marijuana in the garage and house, an amount totaling about a pound, according to the police report.
Sills, who has been with the school district 19 years, then arrived home and said he was a science teacher doing a botany experiment, according to the report.
When asked about the smell, Sills said he had been growing the marijuana for about eight months "so I could save myself some money instead of buying it off the street," the report said.
Sills did not return calls seeking comment. His attorney, Samuel Smith, declined to comment.
Prosecutor Ben Leonard said police were trying to do their jobs but that the garage was not open to the public and officers had no probable cause to think Sills was doing anything illegal.
"To find contraband material without a warrant, you always have to have a right to be where you are," Leonard said.
From all indications, Sills is a dedicated teacher, Leonard said.
"If I had any hint that this marijuana in his garage was making its way to kids or anyone else for that matter, I certainly would have had a different attitude," Leonard said.
The dismissal was "not due to factual innocence," Leonard wrote on the court order dismissing the case last week.
Bobby Whiteside of the school district's Office of Special Investigations said he expected the superintendent and a committee to recommend Sills return to work.
Sills could resume teaching at Paschal High as soon as Tuesday. Neither state law nor district policy allows termination of an employee who has been arrested but not convicted of a crime, school officials said.
District records show that on Tuesday, Sills signed a voluntary agreement to submit to random drug testing through Dec. 31. The district does not ordinarily perform drug tests on teachers, Whiteside said, but he asked Sills to comply "to protect the district's interests."