NASHVILLE (WRCB)- The Tennessee State Board of Education has revised its
recommendation to suspend five Signal Mountain High School educators for one
year. The proposed penalties will be reduced, according to General
Counsel Dannelle Walker. Ms. Walker told Eyewitness News that Hamilton
County school district officials met with state officials last Friday,
providing additional information that has resulted in a less stringent penalty
for each of the educators.
The five are guidance counselors Dr. Leann Welch, Dr. Anne
Cushing and Leslie Sharpe, assistant principal Jason McKinney and teacher
Steven Redman. All were suspended for ten days by Hamilton County
Superintendent Rick Smith after reports surfaced that they had violated school
policy on alcohol use during a senior class cruise to the Bahamas in early
March. Welch and Cushing received additional suspensions, through the end
of the school year, after officials learned they had also violated alcohol policy
on the school campus.
Earlier this month, state officials flagged the teaching
licenses of the five educators, recommending a one-year suspension for
each. Two of the educators, Sharpe and Redman, had asked for an appeal
However, as a result of the meeting, state officials agreed to reduce the suspension recommendation to six months for Welch and
Cushing. If there are no appeals, and the State Board approves, the
suspensions would begin retroactively from the time of the infractions in March.
Also, Sharpe, Redman and McKinney will only receive a letter of reprimand, with
no suspension time.
Ms. Walker said that Superintendent Smith, School Board attorney
Scott Bennett and Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Stacy Stewart
made the trip to Nashville on Friday to offer the additional information.
Ms. Walker said the state has no involvement in Smith's
suspension of Signal Mountain principal Dr. Tom McCullough, who was suspended
for the remainder of the school year last week. Smith cited McCullough's
"lack of regard for procedures and policy" in the aftermath of the cruise
McCullough is considering an appeal. The five educators,
two adult staffers acting as chaperones, and eighteen students were suspended
as a result of the alcohol-related rule violations on the Bahamas cruise.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 5:36 PM EDT2013-05-21 21:36:31 GMT
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