Thursday, April 27, 2000

School officials: Teacher mishandled activity funds

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — School officials say West Elementary School teacher Heather Stickler kept student activity funds for at least three months before depositing them, which violates Fairfield Schools' policy.

        That allegation — which school officials say happened more than once — is one of four reasons the Fairfield Board of Education has begun proceedings to fire the second-grade teacher. Police and school officials are investigating the disappearance of $781 from the student coun cil account.

        No charges have been filed against Ms. Stickler, but she is a suspect, Fairfield Police said.

        In an April 24 letter to Ms. Stickler, Fairfield Schools Treasurer Stephen L. Maag outlined reasons the board is considering terminating Ms. Stickler's two-year contract:

        „No funds from student activities were returned for deposit until March 9, and then only a partial return was made after Ms. Stickler was ordered to do so. At least $781 is missing.

        “There may also be funds that were under your control missing and/or stolen during the 1998-99 school year,” the letter says.

        „ Since August 1995, Ms. Stickler showed a pattern of excessive use of sick leave and was absent without approved leave for at least nine days, using all 69.5 days of sick leave.

        „For the second grading period, Ms. Stickler did not complete grade cards on time. When turned in, the cards lacked attendance data and comments.

        „Ms. Stickler did not establish or maintain a positive working relationship with colleagues. The letter cites a verbal reprimand for using profanity, dated March 15, two days after Principal Roger Martin filed a police report about the missing student council funds.

        Ms. Stickler's attorney disputes school officials' allegations.

        “She never took a penny. They (allegations) are absolutely untrue and ridiculous,” said Cincinnati attorney John O'Shea. “Heather is being fired because Mr. Wiedenmann says she stole the $781. Period.” That was a reference to Superintendent Charles Wiedenmann.

        The other allegations, Mr. O'Shea said, are in direct contrast with the letter Mr. Martin wrote in support of Ms. Stickler's nomination for Ashland Oil's Teacher Achievement award. The letter was written three weeks before Mr. Martin filed the police report.

        Mr. O'Shea said Ms. Stickler will request a hearing.


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