School’s letter of reprimand for teacher goes before hearing officer

          A dispute between the Terry School Board and the Terry Teachers  

Association, MEA-MFT regarding a letter of reprimand that was placed  

in a Terry teacher’s file was heard May 9 before hearing officer  

Donald Olson, who was contracted by the two parties to settle the  

matter. Olson is certified with the Montana Department of Labor and  

Industry’s Board of Personnel Appeals.

The May 9 hearing began shortly after 9 a.m. in the community room  

of Stockman Bank and was completed about 3:30 p.m. The hearing, which  

closely resembles court proceedings, included swearing in of  

witnesses and opening arguments given by both sides. The Terry School  

District called three witnesses to testify before Olson on the  

matter, while the Terry Teachers Association called two witnesses.  

Both sides were allowed to cross examine witnesses.

Written closing arguments are due to Olson June 23. Olson is then  

required to present a decision within 30 days of the closing arguments.

The Terry Teachers Association is represented by Maggie Copeland.  

The Terry School District has hired attorney Rich Batterman to  

represent the school in the matter.

The dispute stems from a letter of reprimand that was placed in  

fifth grade teacher Susan Tyler’s teaching file during the 2013-14  

school year. Tyler stated in earlier reports that she believes the  

letter doesn’t belong in her teaching file because it isn’t in  

regards to teaching her students. The letter of reprimand was placed  

in Tyler’s teaching file in regards to checks given by parents for  

sports buttons benefiting the Accelerated Reading Program that were  

not handed in or cashed in an appropriate amount of time. Tyler  

subsequential tore up the checks and wrote a personal check of her  

own, covering the amount raised from the discarded checks.

The Terry School Board has unanimously supported Superintendent  

Casey Klasna’s decision to place the letter in Tyler’s teaching file.

Published May 21, 2014

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