Howard Co. special education teacher faces child pornography charges: school officials

A special education teacher in Howard County has been arrested and faces child pornography charges, school officials say.

Lawrence Costella, a special education instructor at Atholton High School in Columbia, Maryland was arrested Wednesday in Baltimore County and faces possession and distribution of child pornography charges, according to a letter sent to the school community by principal Robert Motley.

Lawrence Costella

Motley said Costella was in his second year at the school and underwent a criminal background check and fingerprinting prior to being hired.

"He was immediately placed on administrative leave following the announcement of these charges and is not permitted on school property pending the outcome of the investigation and criminal case," Motley said adding that a substitute will take over Costella's classroom until further notice.

"Our parents entrust us to keep our children safe, and that responsibility is our top priority," said Superintendent Michael Martirano in a message to the school. "Though it's important to allow the legal process to play out, I am extremely disturbed as a result of learning of these charges."

Counselors are available at all Howard County schools for support, Martirano added.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Baltimore County Police at 410-887-2222.