Ojai Janitor Allegedly Tokes Weed with Nordhoff Students

by Tyler Suchman on March 18, 2010

From the Ojai PD, 25 year old Brandon Hoffmeister was arrested on suspicion that, as the Janitor of Nordhoff High, he regularly sold weed to students, and smoked with them 20-30 times over a two month period. Unbelievable.

scrubs46.jpgDeputy Valenzuela entered the classroom and saw a thick cloud of smoke and smelled the odor of burnt marijuana. She also saw Nordhoff High School Janitor, Brandon Hoffmeister, 25 years, with 3 male juvenile students. As Deputy Valenzuela directed Hoffmeister and the students out of the classroom, Hoffmeister ran from Deputy Valenzuela.


Official Report
Nature of Incident: Possession of Controlled Substance on School Grounds, Furnishing Marijuana to a Minor over 14 years Old, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, Resisting / Delaying Arrest.
On 03/11/10, Nordhoff School Resource Officer Deputy Valenzuela was contacted by Nordhoff School staff regarding marijuana being smoked in a vacant classroom.
On 03/18/10, Officer Deputy Valenzuela was on foot patrol on the campus of Nordhoff High School. Deputy Valenzuela became suspicious when she saw an empty janitors cart, near the classroom, she had previously received the complaint about. Deputy Valenzuela entered the classroom and saw a thick cloud of smoke and smelled the odor of burnt marijuana. She also saw Nordhoff High School Janitor, Brandon Hoffmeister, 25 years, with 3 male juvenile students. As Deputy Valenzuela directed Hoffmeister and the students out of the classroom, Hoffmeister ran from Deputy Valenzuela. Hoffmeister was located, on campus, a short time later and placed under arrest.
During Deputy Valenzuela’s investigation she discovered an empty plastic baggie, in the classroom, which contained marijuana residue. Hoffmeister admitted to providing marijuana to students over the past 2 months and having smoked marijuana, with students, on campus, approximately 20-30 times over the two month period.
Hoffmeister was booked at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility. Bail was set at $100,000.00

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 6:58 am

This is why i never went to Nordoff they should do random drug test on all school employees i know teachers that work in Ojai that smoke Weed.

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Monty Rothschild March 19, 2010 at 8:49 am

The janitors were never this awesome when I went to Nordhoff.

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DK March 19, 2010 at 10:33 am

Nowadays SEVERAL things I did with school employees might be considered illegal. Getting rides from them, going to Europe and sharing wine with them, don’t even get me started about the theater troop… This is blatant law-breaking and someone who was looking for $$. Wouldn’t be surprised if other allegations arise about someone who was that young and that foolish. Even if marijuana wasn’t illegal, wonder if supplying students still would be.

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C-Dub March 19, 2010 at 10:53 am

This guy just earned himself a free i’msojai t-shirt.

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Tanya March 19, 2010 at 1:36 pm

This is not OK.
However, if other adult staff, teachers even, are smoking weed in the privacy of their own homes, not involving students, and are doing a good job teaching…I could care less.
Don’t go all reefer madness here just because this janitor did something dumb.

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Anonymous March 21, 2010 at 10:43 am

How sad.
There are those who will use this to justify the “resource officer” on campus. I think its just the opposite: If there had been no resource officer, this dumb janitor’s life would not be ruined, our state would not go further in the hole imprisoning him for something that harmed nobody for – what is it, ten year minimum for “drugs at school”?.
The fact is Nordhoff is a terrible school, doing its damndest to dumb down our brightest kids into vapid “yessir” mopes. The best kids get by smoking weed through every class. Without weed, kids would just drop out, or turn to worse outlets. A prodigious adolescence cannot stand too many hours a day of that degree of boredom and hypocrisy without something to help put things in perspective. The weed was probably a good thing.
My guess is janitor Brandon is not so many years out of there himself and understood that.
Oh well. Now his life is over. Sad.
Meanwhile, I wonder how many other lives have been needlessly ruined by the “resource officer”?
Why would any parent put their kid in a school that has police on campus?

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spk March 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Are they really going to put this janitor away for 10 years! Sure it was a dumb thing for him to do, but 10 years? We already have the largest incarceration rate in the entire world both in terms of real numbers and per capita.

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Suza March 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm

According to an article in The Atlantic (see link below)”in the federal system, about one out of every six federal inmates is in federal prison for marijuana… There are more people now in federal prison for marijuana offenses than for violent offenses. Out of the 1.1 million people in American prisons, the marijuana offenders are not the majority. But there are a lot of them. And certainly, at a time when there’s a shortage of prison space and when murderers are serving on average about six years in prison, it seems absurd to have non-violent marijuana offenders locked up in those large numbers.”
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/dope/interviews/schlosser.html

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Suza March 21, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Two books I recommend on this topic are “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” by Jack Herer and “Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess And How We Can Get Out,” by Mike Gray.
http://www.drugcrazy.com/
For a look at how some of the locals feel check out:
http://ovnblog.com/?p=2632

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Suza March 21, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Cops and Clergy Condemn the War On Drugs
http://www.csdp.org/

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Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm

California provides for 3-5 years in prison for sale of marijuana to a minor over 14, 3-7 for sale to minor 14 and under. There are enhancements and minimums for sales near school grounds and on school grounds. Plus, multiple counts potentially create possible consecutive sentences. Bottom line, he is facing at least 3 years in state prison, and easily might be facing ten years or more.

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Brandons Brother March 23, 2010 at 7:49 am

I went to Brandon’s arraignment yesterday… They let him stay in jail until his next court date on the 29th. It’s sad how someone who has led a good life and never hurt anyone could end up this way. Anyway, his charges have been reduced to this: possession of a controlled substance on school grounds and resisting arrest. All I can say is, what a relief. Now he wont be going to prison, at least that much can be said. I’ll try to keep people updated as to what is going on with Brandon’s trial. In the end if he would have been doing this with people his own age, off campus, he would have gotten a ticket and I think we need to remember that. This is an incident which has been exacerbated by police officials simply because he is the only one of the faculty to get got; he has become their scapegoat. How unfortunate for my brother to be stuck in this mess.

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anyway March 23, 2010 at 8:52 am

how unfortunate that your brother made a conscious decision to do what he did, knowing it was wrong

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Suza March 23, 2010 at 9:32 am

Thank you, “Brandon’s brother,” for updating us on this unfortunate incident.
Yes, the janitor (an honorable profession, I myself did a stint as a janitor at a private school in my younger years) showed poor judgement. But we all know that if this was a famous wealthy writer/actor/rock star caught smoking with an underage actress things would play out differently.

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Tyler March 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Hi “Brandon’s Brother” – thanks very much for the update. I hope your brother takes this opportunity to move forward with his life in a positive way.

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Anonymous March 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Out of curiosity, where did the statement at the beginning of this article that Hoffmeister “regularly sold weed to students” come from?
Obviously there was nothing real to that, or charges would not have been reduced.
Did this slander come from the “resource officer”? If so, what kind of lesson is the school trying to teach students by having such a person on campus?
I also wonder what the basis of the “resisting arrest” is?
I am far more concerned about an official abusing authority by slandering a person as someone who sells drugs to kids, when all they saw is he smoked some weed with students, than with the what the janitor apparently did. Let’s face it, these kids are toking up most hours of most days. My first guess would be that they invited the janitor to smoke with them, not the other way around, and the weed came from the students. I wonder if that is the case?
If so, it is inexcusable that an officer of the law, on a school campus, would slander him as someone who sells drugs to kids.
Tyler, where did that statement come from? Did it come from the “resource officer”?

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Tyler March 23, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I wrote that he was arrested on suspicion that he “regularly sold weed to students” because the PD’s press release said that “Hoffmeister admitted to providing marijuana to students over the past 2 months and having smoked marijuana, with students, on campus, approximately 20-30 times over the two month period.”
In re-reading what I wrote, I should clarify that the Official Release wasn’t explicit about “selling” weed, just “providing” it.
There’s some vagueness in the Official Release, but if providing it meant getting students high by passing around a joint, then Hoffmeister’s statement that he provided marijuana to students and smoked it with them would be redundant. Instead, it reads like two separate admissions, where he gave OR sold students product that was consumed elsewhere AND he also smoked with them on campus.
If this is the case where it was the two separate admissions, I personally doubt he was just giving away weed to students for months, and was at least selling enough to cover his consumption.

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Anonymous March 24, 2010 at 12:09 am

Thanks Tyler. That’s good to know.
As to your reasoning, yes, that’s one inference. But don’t put it past the official release to have turned an innocuous statement by Brandon into redundant admissions. Or to even have reported entirely fabricated “admissions.” Look at the report. The real facts the officer encountered are pretty thin, absent the “admissions”. Officer walked in a classroom, smelled burnt marijuana, saw the janitor and three students. Didn’t even see anyone smoking, and did not catch anyone holding any weed. Found an empty bag with residue is all, in the classroom, not on anyone’s person.
On those facts, absent the “admissions,” a few things are as equally likely as Brandon actually smoking weed with the kids: (A) Brandon walked in on the kids smoking weed. (B) The kids walked in after or while Brandon smoked a fatty. (C) Brandon and the kids were in a room where someone else had recently smoked a fatty.
Really, maybe we can assume our friendly janitor is not the sharpest tool in the shed, just from the basics of this story. But, even so, regarding these “admissions”, how likely is it that he just up and said, “yeah, I smoke with them here on campus all the time. I bring the weed. I give it to them. I sell it to them. I don’t know, 20-30 times in the last two months. Right here on campus.”
I mean, maybe. But even assuming he was baked, doesn’t seem real likely.
Same with the “resisting.” Look at the report. Officer says Brandon “ran” when he told Brandon and the kids to go outside. Brandon then was “located, on campus, a short time later”.
I bet the reality is closer to the following: Officer suspects Brandon likes to smoke weed, and thinks he’s been doing it in a particular vacant classroom. Officer sees his cart outside that classroom. Officer walks in. Sees three kids and the janitor. Smells weed. But there’s no joint, nobody’s holding anything. Officer says everyone outside.
Janitor figures that’s a good time to get back to work. And that’s what he does. Wheels his cart to the next classroom or wherever and starts cleaning.
Meanwhile, officer searches the room and finds the baggie. When officer gets outside, the kids are waiting, but the janitor’s gone. “Where’d he go?” “I dunno,” say the kids. “He ran off.”
Later, officer goes and finds janitor, and asks him how many times he’d seen these kids smoking weed on campus. He says, “I don’t know. Maybe 20-30 times in the last two months? These kids are baked all the time.” Voila. The redundant “admissions.”
Then what can Brandon do? Demand a jury trial, to prove he never admitted anything? That’s the DA’s favorite case. “Ladies and gentlemen, the defendant says the officer is lying. Who do you believe?”
Anyway, who knows. What we do know is, your inference is a reasonable one from the text of the report. And it is unfair, based on that report. Ojai PD and/or the school should issue a correction making clear that this was not a case of the janitor selling weed to students, if that is the truth.
But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.

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Anonymous March 26, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Campus cops suck. he pressed charges on me for a fiht that happened off campus at my buddies house. the kid didnt even want to press charges but officer dic wad had to prove a point- the charges got dropped but i had to pay a lawyer. Campus cops are a waste of time we need a mieners oaks cop to watch OSL, that would catch more actual criminals

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officer dicwad March 26, 2010 at 3:16 pm

perhaps instead of a campus cop, there could be an etiquette teacher instead?

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Anonymous March 27, 2010 at 9:43 am

Etiquette aside, anonymous #19 makes a very serious allegation that should be investigated. If this officer on his own pressed charges for an incident which could not hold up in court before, when we couple it with this current incident, we are talking about a pattern of potentially reckless, lawless and improper behavior. That it could be permitted to happen on a public high school campus is disgraceful.
False or reckless charges ruin lives. A police officer who makes them, under color of law, does far more harm, and is far more reprehensible, than high school students who fight, or smoke pot. It is bad enough when trumped up or false charges are made by cops on the street, against adults. It is absolutely reprehensible to permit something like this from an officer on a public high school campus, against kids. A school administration that permits something like this to go on on campus also must be held accountable.
Nordhoff administration, and the community, should investigate this officer’s actions. If this officer has skirted the law, violated the rights of students, or pressed inappropriate charges that did not hold up in court, there is a teaching moment to be had. It should start by calling the officer to account, but not end there. The administration and community needs to publicly review the decisionmaking that led to allowing this officer on campus, and the decisionmaking that kept this officer there after charges had been lodged that did not hold up. Depending on the results of an open, transparent and honest investigation, the school and administration should be prepared to remove this officer from campus, apologize and explain its own mistakes in allowing this in the first place. And those in Nordhoff administration who are responsible should take a long look in the mirror, and consider whether resignation is in order.
Nordhoff administration, ask yourselves: Did you go into education to facilitate the ruin of children’s lives with false and trumped up criminal charges?
I sure hope not.

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Tyler March 27, 2010 at 11:28 am

An anonymous, barely literate comment on a blog is “a very serious allegation that should be investigated”? I’d have to disagree with that.
Anonymous, I’d assume (without checking IP records or anything like that) that you are the same person who has repeatedly commented on this thread (#6, #16, #18, #21), each time going after the Nordhoff resource officer. This anonymity is murky, and the sniff test says there is a hidden agenda. Why not reveal who you are, and what vested interest you have in this case?
Otherwise, your calls to investigate the officer, consideration of resignation, “transparent investigations” simply don’t hold much water at all.

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Anonymous March 27, 2010 at 12:09 pm

No vested interest, Tyler, other than as a parent who would like the idea of having the local public high school as an option I could consider for my own children, and someone who cares about the devolution of this community into one that would tolerate our high schoolers subjected to police on campus who initiate criminal charges that do not hold up. I think that’s appalling, and I’m willing to bet that if you sit back and think about it as well, you agree. I don’t treat the “barely literate” assertion that this happened as gospel truth: maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. But I do believe it is serious. It would be easy to check into, and if in fact it is the case that this officer initiated charges against students that did not hold up, there are real issues, and the people who let it happen and continue to happen should not be in positions of authority in our public school.
As far as anonymity, I believe its a virtue that allows you to consider the ideas posted, without the extraneous baggage of who is saying it. Anonymity has fostered many of the better threads here on the Post. Here’s one.

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Tyler March 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Well, again, you are going after the resource officer, making leading statements and assumptions that there is the possibility that the resource officer “initiate[s] criminal charges that do not hold up,” without any evidence other than reading between the lines of a press release.
If I was a parent considering Nordhoff as an option for my child, I think that having a resource officer on campus could be a net plus, so if I “sit back and think about it,” I’m not particularly “appalled” by a hypothetical scenario you have made up.
Regarding anonymity as a virtue, I think allowing anonymity does expand the number of voices that can be heard, but I also think that an anonymous voice carries much less weight than someone who is willing to use their name and stand by their words.

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stu March 29, 2010 at 12:16 am

It’s interesting that some here refer to:
“an unfortunate incident”
An unfortunate incident could include…let’s say: a teacher having sex with a student during lunch break? I guess getting caught was the unfortunate part.
“far more concerned about an official abusing authority by slandering a person as someone who sells drugs to kids”
Really? What if it was Meth?
The BOTTOM LINE is that adults working with children (yes highschoolers are children), are expected to uphold a high moral standard and with that they are to be held accountable for their actions. This Pot-Head got through the hiring process once. If he is ever allowed to work around children again – there’s the injustice.

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