A Canby Grove Outdoor School employee died of drug-related causes last week, according to a letter to parents from the Outdoor School coordinator.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office later confirmed that Canby Grove Outdoor School Program Leader Cameron Kent Faltersack, age 30, died of a drug overdose at the Christian conference center on Oct. 23. Faltersack, a Lake Oswego resident who was also known by his work nickname “Tumbleweed,” had been an Outdoor School employee since Sept. 11, 2019.
The sheriff’s office said they determined no children attending the school function were exposed to the scene or the substances involved. They also said it is an ongoing and sensitive investigation, which is one reason they asked the district to hold off on releasing information about the case until this week.
“Cameron was a valued outdoor school employee and he will be missed,” Outdoor School Coordinator Jennifer Basham said in the letter to parents. “Times like these are a good reminder of the importance of connection and looking after one another. Please join us in keeping this young man and his family in your thoughts during this difficult time, and take good care of yourselves and your students.”
The Outdoor School is operated by the Multnomah Education Services District and is one of the longest running and most successful environmental education programs in the nation. Outdoor School takes sixth-grade students from the classroom to the outdoors where they study plants, animals, soil and water.
Outdoor School operates multiple sites during the fall and spring of each school year. The district has been using the Canby Grove Christian Center property as one of its sites since 1968.
On Tuesday, the Oregon Department of Corrections confirmed that Faltersack was convicted of possession of methamphetamine in December 2014 and sentenced to 18 months of probation. DOC said he served the sentence under Clackamas County jurisdiction, and that he was released from probation on July 3, 2016.
District spokeswoman Laura Conroy said MESD conducts fingerprint-based background checks on all of its applicants for employment through the Oregon Department of Education, which is standard practice for school districts and education service districts. She said districts then receive “cleared” or “not cleared” notices back from ODE.
“We received a cleared notice from ODE for Cameron,” she said. “We refer you to ODE for more information about their background check process and determination of ‘cleared’ and ‘not cleared.'”
In response to questions from concerned parents and media, ODE released a statement this week concerning Faltersack’s background check, which read in part: “Yes, he met the standards to be cleared. To be cleared, a person must have no disqualifying crimes and must truthfully answer questions about criminal history. The background check is a state and FBI fingerprint based criminal background check and is part of the clearance process.”
Conroy said the district appreciates the many emails, letters and calls of support they have received from the community, especially for Faltersack’s family, who are “experiencing a very public response to what is usually a private and tragic loss for a family.”
“This is a heartbreaking situation and an example of the impact that drugs are having in our neighborhoods and communities,” Conroy said. “Cameron was a valued member of the outdoor school program and this is an extremely difficult time for his coworkers.”
She said the district will work closely with law enforcement as they continue their investigation into the circumstances leading to Faltersack’s death.
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