Thursday, April 13, 2000

Students' parents complain to police

BY Andrea Tortora and Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — Parents concerned about a Ruth Moyer Elementary teacher who is accused of throwing chairs in a classroom full of sixth-graders have taken their complaints to police and school officials.

        Kelly Blevins and Greg Grimme said they think school leaders are not taking their worries seriously, because the teacher remains in the classroom.

        Police and school spokesmen said investigations are under way and that it is too early to take any action. The teacher, who has been teaching about two years, could not be reached for comment.

        The complaints stem from a March 27 incident in the teacher's science room. The teacher allegedly became upset with students who did not push in their chairs, picked up two chairs and threw them. Ms. Blevins said her son told her one chair came close to hitting him in the head.

        “If a child did this, he would be removed from school,” Ms. Blevins said. “It's a double standard. A teacher performs a dangerous act and nothing happens.”

        School officials are reluctant to talk about the matter.

        Ruth Moyer Principal Daniel Hamilton declined to comment, and board of education members directed questions to Superintendent Larry Stinson.

        Mr. Stinson confirmed that he met with concerned parents Monday night and fielded their “questions and suggestions.” He would not comment on what kind of information the parents provided.

        “Teachers and students both have confidentiality rights,” he said. “It's not appropriate, at least until the entire situation is resolved.”

        Mr. Grimme said he does

        not understand why the school district is fighting the parents on this issue.

        “They seem more concerned about protecting the teacher, their image or being sued rather than protecting children,” Mr. Grimme said. “If they can't get rid of the teacher, at least allow for some protection of students in her class.”

        When Ms. Blevins learned of the incident, she tried to contact Mr. Hamilton, who was out of town. She called her son's home-room teacher and spoke with Mr. Stinson, who told her Mr. Hamilton would have to handle the complaint.

        Not satisfied with the school system's response, Ms. Blevins contacted Fort Thomas police, who advised her to file an incident report. She filed a report March 29.

        Police Officer Mike Lehkamp is interviewing students and collecting other information to see whether a misdemeanor charge of second-degree wanton endangerment should be filed against the teacher. Such a decision will require the input of the county attorney, he said.

        Ms. Blevins and Mr. Grimme said their sons also were interviewed by Mr. Hamilton about what happened.

        Don Ruberg, the school board's attorney, is also investigating. He is talking to students and the teacher. He expects to be done early next week.

        Mr. Ruberg noted that Kentucky law permits four possible courses of action against the teacher: a public reprimand, private reprimand, suspension and contract termination.

        Mr. Ruberg stressed a fifth possibility — “no action.”


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