Wood BOE may extend Young’s suspension

PARKERSBURG – A high school teacher whose version of a popular Internet dance video ran afoul of administrators is poised to serve another 30-day suspension and likely won’t return to a Wood County classroom.

Wood County Board of Education members are slated to approve the recommended extension of a suspension for Parkersburg High teacher Jesse Young.

Young has been on suspension since March 7 for his role in an inappropriate Harlem Shake video that included students engaged in simulated sex acts. Board members tonight are slated to extend Young’s suspension another 30 days. If approved, Young’s suspension would extend 65 days, until May 3.

Bob Harris, assistant superintendent of pupil and personnel services, had no idea if Young, a first-year teacher, would return to the classroom this year.

“The superintendent has the authority to suspend and recommend as such to the board,” Harris said. Superintendent Pat Law was out of town Monday and unavailable for comment.

Board member Tad Wilson said the issue has not been discussed by the board since its executive session at the March 12 meeting.

Wilson said he’s heard from people on both sides of the issues; some in support of Young and others who continue to push for punishment.

“People who believe the act, using their terms, was ‘egregious,'” Wilson said. “There’s opinion on both sides.”

In addition to the suspension, Young is one of three Wood County educators not offered probationary or continuing contracts for next year.

Harris said any probationary teacher who receives notification they have not been recommended for rehiring may request a statement of the reasons and a hearing before the board.

“He’s having a hearing because he was not rehired,” Harris said. “The reason he’s not being rehired is because of the suspension.”

Harris said Young has requested a grievance hearing, set for April 26.

The hearing can be public if requested by Young, Harris said.

Amanda Terrell, the PHS teacher involved in the “Bad Kid Fort incident,” also was not offered a contract. Terrell served a five-day suspension as a result of the incident, which was investigated by Child Protective Services at the behest of the student’s mother.

Greg Merritt, president of the Wood County AFT, said CPS did a “thorough investigation” of the incident and found no evidence of abuse. Terrell, who’s taught for two years in Wood County, has not yet requested a hearing. Harris said she still has time to do so.

Wilson was asked why Terrell received a 5-day suspension, while Young is looking at a 65-day suspension.

“Obviously, there are differences,” Wilson said. “Each teacher that has disciplinary actions is different, unique in each situation and they need to be looked at in this manner. You can’t draw parallels.”

Wilson said he’s open-minded about the matter. He declined to wade into it.

“It’s not something I want to make an opinion.”