McCOOK, Nebraska -- A McCook High School teacher accused of unprofessional conduct will be able to keep her job in the district, after the McCook School Board met June 11 for a hearing and failed by a tie vote to agree on a motion.Lana Egle, a high school special education teacher, was accused of allowing students to drink in her home.
After six hours of testimony and evidence and then meeting in closed session, the McCook School Board reconvened in open session and made the motion that the employment contract of Egle should be continued for the 2013-14 school year, subject to a written reprimand and corrective action and improvement plan.
There was tie vote and the motion died. Diane Lyons, Shane Messersmith and Larry Shields voted for it and Sandy Krysl, Teresa Thomas and Tom Bredvick voted against it.
At the hearing, the administrative staff of Superintendant Grant Norgaard, McCook High School principal Jerry Smith and assistant principal Jeff Gross had recommended to the school board termination of Egle's contract, after conducting an investigation with several students and Egle concerning rumors about students drinking alcohol at her home.
Norgaard said he had been approached by an administrator and two board members about the rumor.
All three testified at the hearing and stated that after interviewing the students and Egle, her conduct had violated school policy and policies in the Nebraska Department of Education Professional Practices Criteria.
In the "Findings of Fact and Decision" document that the board issued at hearing Tuesday night after closed session, the board agreed that Egle's conduct was "unprofessional, a neglect of duty, is insubordiate and has a direct connection to her ability to teach," by allowing minors who are McCook High School students to maintain possession of and have the continuing opportunity to consume alcohol in her home, her failure to confiscate such alcohol and report the incident to the parents of students and the potential violation of school district activity rules to the administration.
At the hearing, Egle disputed the testimony of the administration and said that handwritten notes taken during a meeting with administration and later typed up were inaccurate.
Two parents also testified on behalf of Egle.
Board members this morning gave reasons for the way they voted. Krysl,Thomas and Bredvick told the Gazette that they voted against the motion as they did not agree in continuing Egle's contract and that termination should have taken place. A "yes" vote would be endorsing the fact that she can continue to teach, Krysl said. Thomas said she felt the administration proved in their testimony that Egle's conduct justified her termination. Bredvick said termination was warranted with Egle's admission during the hearing that she violated school policy, teacher contract standards and the law.
Messersmith, who voted for the motion, said that he understood that Egle did something wrong, but that he wanted to give her the option to take corrective action.
Lyons said she, too, agreed that Egle didn't conduct herself properly, but a reprimand would have been placed in Egle's file and that she would be given a chance to prove that she could still be employed as a teacher. Shields, who also voted in favor of the motion, said, "The motion we voted upon was clear-cut. Yes, we would have continued her contract, but there were seven provisions that she would have to meet to continue her employment."
Four attorneys, all of Lincoln, Nebraska, were present during the hearing: Rex Schultze, for the McCook school board, Kelley Baker for the administration, Rick Wade for Egle and another lawyer for the Nebraska teacher's union.
Published June 12 in the McCook Daily Gazette. Reprinted with permission.