Accused teachers will work in system

August 21, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Teachers accused of misconduct have traditionally stayed at home, collecting pay while their cases were resolved. That will change this week when 13 teachers suspended or on paid leave report to work.

"[They] will be notified by letter, and it will indicate where they should report, what time they should report and who their supervisor will be," said Superintendent Carol S. Parham.

A review of school records in April showed the school system had paid 13 teachers $238,292 while they waited for their cases to be resolved. Not being allowed to work in the classroom did not stop some of those teachers from taking second jobs.

One teacher had been out of the classroom 330 days -- about two years. The 12 others had missed between six and 163 days. In addition to paying those teachers, the school system spent more than $104,000 on their substitutes during the past school year.

"Of the original 13, about a half-dozen cases have been resolved, and about a half-dozen more people have been put on that list," said Ronald L. Beckett, associate superintendent for administration and support services. "They will be out of contact with youngsters until we can dispose of their cases."

In the future, all suspended teachers will be temporarily reassigned to school headquarters, Dr. Parham said. Though she declined to comment on what assignments the 13 teachers now on leave will be given, she did say program review and curriculum development are among the jobs available.

"There's a substantial cost to having an individual out on leave with pay, and quite frankly, this is the best utilization of human resources," Dr. Parham said. "There are always areas [within the administration] that need additional service."

Three of the teachers on leave -- Laurie S. Cook and Charles A. Yocum, of Northeast High, and Thomas A. Newman, of the Center for Applied Technology South -- were accused of having sex with students.

All were acquitted by juries on charges of child sex abuse.

But they could face administrative action and have been investigated by the school system.

Dr. Parham has recommended firing Ms. Cook, who is appealing the decision to the eight-member Anne Arundel County Board of Education. No hearing date has been set.

The school system pays the teachers while they are not working because of a clause that reinstates their pay each time they appeal the superintendent's decisions.

But due process has been time-consuming. It can take months to review an allegation of misconduct, especially if there is police involvement.

Once all investigations are complete -- and the case is not delayed by an arrest or trial -- the superintendent recommends what, if any, disciplinary action should be taken.

The employee then has 10 days to file an appeal with the school board.

Appeals to the county school board can be heard by a quorum of five board members or by a board-appointed hearing officer, who would recommend what action the board should take.

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