CAMDEN — Despite a room full of people supporting the long-time Preble Shawnee High School teacher and coach, on Thursday, April 21, PS Board of Education members voted unanimously to non-renew Greg Stacy’s contract at the end of the school year.
Stacy has been a vocational instructor and coach for the Preble Shawnee district.
The board also decided to initiate termination proceedings against Stacy, and suspended him without pay.
According to the board, the grounds for Stacy’s termination include:
•Engaging in conduct that violates Board Policy regarding sexual harassment of a student.
•Engaging in a pattern of conduct over time that demonstrates “boundary violations and/or failure of appropriate behavior with one or more students.
•Texting female students regarding non-educational matters.
•Engaging in inappropriate touching and/or massaging the shoulders, and/or other areas of the bodies of one or more female students.
•Receiving massages and/or shoulder touching from one or more female students.
•Taking a female student off school grounds during the school day in his car.
•Taking an undue interest in a female student and/or creating the appearance of favoritism toward a certain female student by paying more attention to her than other students.
•Participating in conversations with one or more students regarding subjects such as birth control and sexual activity.
•Permitting graffiti about a female student, some with sexual references, to remain in the classroom.
•Violating staff ethics.
•Violating Board Policy in regard to “student supervision and welfare.”
Rod Shockey, a retired Preble Shawnee administrator who spent 31 of his 36 years in education in the district, spoke out in support of Stacy.
“I have an opportunity to fill in from time to time over at Camden Elementary, which I enjoy quite a bit. It’s one place you can get hugs and not get in trouble, I guess,” Shockey told the board.
“Reading through the agenda for tonight’s meeting it became very frightening how legalistic terms can be manipulated to take something very simple, normal, or casual and make it into something fraudulently damning. It seems to me that the building-level administration must have been aware of Mr. Stacy’s normal, if not exceptional, interactions with his students. They must have been aware of the special needs that the CIV program demands in order to make the students more successful in the school environment as well as work life.
“For example, texting,” he continued. “Texting students is the normal mode of communication in today’s world. It is a relationship builder as well as an immediate form of communication. For example, ‘Where are you? Are you coming to school? Don’t forget your preparation for the test tomorrow. Who won the game last night? Practice has been canceled due to the weather. Be careful on your way to work, etc..
“Texting and communicating by texting were in Mr. Stacy’s class rules and accepted by the administration. Many of Mr. Stacy’s activities and methods were known by the administration and to my knowledge he was never told to alter his approach of how he developed a rapport with his students. Yes, he’s blunt, straightforward and ruthlessly honest — and his students loved him for being that way,” Shockey said.
“The administration has direct knowledge of Mr. Stacy’s relationship with students, his support and guidance, faith divided and he never received any reproach by the administration. According to the PSLEA teacher’s contract when a parent approaches the administration with a complaint directed against a teacher, the teacher will meet with the complainant to discuss the complaint. The opportunity was never awarded to Mr. Stacy to my knowledge.
“If there are administrative concerns with a teacher then disciplinary procedures are to be followed. For example, oral reprimands, written reprimands, etc… This was never followed,” Shockey said.
No such reprimands exist in Stacy’s personnel file at Preble Shawnee.
“Instead of a non-renewal of termination proceedings to Mr. Stacy’s contract tonight, he should at the utmost be looking at a written reprimand listing the items of concern and placed back into the classroom with his students,” Shockey told board members.
“Twenty-plus years of service to our district and students — the moral and honest thing to do would be to renew Mr. Stacy’s teaching contract tonight and drop any termination proceedings immediately and put Mr. Stacy back into the classroom tomorrow morning. I’m asking the board of education to do the right thing, the moral thing and the just thing for Mr. Stacy here tonight,” Shockey added.
The board’s plan is to proceed with Stacy’s termination at its next public meeting, May 19, unless “Mr. Stacy files a written demand for a hearing within the time required…”
Counsel for Stacy, Eaton Attorney Brian Muenchenbach, spoke on Stacy’s behalf during the open portion of the meeting:
“All of these people have shown up here to support him today and really, that shows you what an inspiration he has been to so many people. He has faithfully served this school district for 20-plus years . I know we had a lengthy discussion in there in executive session. I know I made you aware of that. But one thing I will say, as Mr. Shockey pointed out — a complete review of his record shows he has never been reprimanded. He had virtually nothing on there that would believe you to conclude that he has done things that deserve termination. What it has led people to conclude is that he has revealed a lifetime of dedication and service to this particular school district.
“I’ll remind you that the Preble County Prosecutors Office considered allegations for criminal liability. What did they do? They passed on these allegations. They said there was unsubstantiated evidence. There was not enough evidence to move forward. Mr. Stacy vehemently denies any of these allegations.
“I’ll also remind the board, as we discussed in this executive session the actions of this administration have certainly left you open to liability and certain causes of action. I’m making this statement on Mr. Stacy’s behalf,” Muenchenbach said.
Gayle George, a former Preble Shawnee board member and longtime supporter of the school district, addressed the board as well.
“I sat on this board for 18 years and I ask the board to not be hasty in your decision tonight,” George said. “This is so important that I think you should put this off. Put the man back in the classroom. I just question why it went this far, when nothing, as far as the sheriff’s department or those people, had any evidence, and then how the evidence that you do have now gathered. How was that gathered? Was that gathered legally? I just question that”
George continued, “I just ask the board to be careful because you set a precedence that everyone out there will be looking at. I’m the world’s worst about hugging a student. I’ve got some of your children that will run up and hug me. And I’ve told a lot of them don’t do that anymore. Listen to what these people are telling you, because there are so many things that have happened over 20 years. If I had a problem, I would call that man. I’d go and talk to him many, many times.”
“Clearly the board has made a terrible mistake,” Muenchenbach said following the meeting and the board’s 5-0 votes to non-renew and begin termination proceedings. “They’ve deviated from any type of rational decision making here. I feel that the way the board handled, in such a public fashion, the agenda this evening — they essentially put each and every aspect of each allegation, whether it was substantiated or not — into the public view. In my opinion that leaves them open to certain liability,” he said.
“I was surprised at the way it was handled. I’m appalled at their decision,” Muenchenbach added. “Usually these matters are handled in executive session really to spare the board, administration and the teacher themselves any type of humiliation.”
David Ulrich, Preble Shawnee Superintendent reiterated the board’s decision following the meeting. “It was stated in the resolution,” he said. “The non-renewal and termination was based upon a number of facts and upon the report I received as per board policy.
“We had been looking into it since the beginning of November. We were asked by the Preble County Sheriff’s Office to suspend our investigation, pending their investigation. We waited until they finished their investigation before resuming ours. You have a situation where there is different standards between criminal prosecution and the adherence to board policy. Because of those different standards you have, obviously, a different result,” Ulrich said.
“Whenever you are talking a small district, you are talking about everybody knows everybody else. When you have a district this small, things tend to become more personal. When they become more personal, emotions run sometimes higher in those circumstances.
“I made the recommendation based upon our knowledge of the facts,” Ulrich said.
Muenchenbach, said last week his client would be filing for the appeal hearing.
School district officials began investigating an alleged harassment complaint by a female student against Stacy in November.
Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson’s office and Prosecuting Attorney Martin Votel’s office found no basis for criminal charges during their investigation. In the PCSO file which contains several “witness” statements and information from other students and fellow school employees, one word used in describing Stacy’s interaction with students is “horseplay.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.