Wood BOE may extend teacher’s suspension

PARKERSBURG – Members of the Wood County Board of Education are poised to extend the suspension of a Parkersburg High School teacher involved in filming an inappropriate Harlem Shake video that featured students.

The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. today to consider the extension of the suspension, without pay, of Jesse Young to 30 days, effective March 14. The suspension is one of several items on the meeting agenda.

At its March 12 meeting, board members spent about 45 minutes in executive session before voting to suspend Young for five days, beginning March 7. Board of Education President Tim Yeater said he favored extending the suspension.

“I didn’t think five days was enough to determine what was going on, as far as getting to his involvement and the student involvement,” Yeater said.

Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law declined to expand on the 30-day suspension. Law said only the “investigation continues.”

“I can’t describe or discuss that. The circumstances are there as such we are trying to get more information,” Law said.

Harlem Shake videos are the latest Internet fad. The Harlem Shake is the title of a 2012 heavy bass instrumental track produced by Baauer. It has spawned a series of dance videos that begin with a masked individual dancing alone in a group before abruptly cutting to a wild dance party featuring the entire group. Popular Harlem Shake videos on YouTube include the Norwegian Army and the Peanuts. There are thousands of versions featuring schools, towns, sports teams and colleges, including West Virginia University.

The Harlem Shake video shot at Parkersburg High School involving Young and posted to social media, featured students performing simulated sex acts.

Young is a first-year teacher. He is also an assistant baseball coach.

Yeater said the March 12 meeting was the first chance he had to view the video. He favored extending the suspensions.

Board members initially made the motion to amend the suspension to 30 days. It was withdrawn as officials deferred to Law, who said it should be left to him to extend the suspension with reason.

Yeater said there are two issues to be handled.

“We need to send a clear message that our teachers are there to supervise and instruct our students. We also have a code of conduct for students. Taking part in that was not right either,” Yeater said.

“Let’s hold all parties involved accountable for their part in it,” Yeater said.

Parkersburg High Principal Pam Goots said Young has been on suspension since March 7.

“Any suspension beyond the original five days has to be approved by the board,” she said.

Goots was asked if any students involved in the video had been disciplined. She declined comment.