Terrell, Young face loss of teaching jobs

PARKERSBURG – Two teachers who were suspended by school officials this year may find themselves out of the Wood County classrooms permanently next year.

Embattled Parkersburg High School teachers Amanda Terrell and Jesse Young were not on the list Tuesday evening to receive probationary and continuing contracts for personnel in Wood County Schools.

Terrell was suspended by officials earlier this year following the “Bad Kid Fort” incident. Young was suspended recently for his role in the PHS Harlem Shake video.

Greg Merritt, president of the Wood County American Federation of Teachers, spoke during public comments at the Wood County Board of Education meeting to bring attention to Terrell’s omission. He noted Terrell, who’s taught in the system for two years, has not been included in the continuing contracts for next year.

Merritt said Terrell served her suspension and returned to the classroom. He acknowledged she made a mistake with regard to the “Bad Kid Fort” incident, but has continued to teach.

Merritt described the social media campaign against Terrell, following the incident, as “ruthless and exaggerated.” He asked the board to consider placing Terrell’s name on the list for continuing contracts.

Terrell attended Tuesday’s meeting, but did not address the board of education. She left before the meeting ended.

Merritt said Terrell was unaware of her contract status until she noticed her name had been omitted from the agenda.

The issue was questioned by board president Tim Yeater.

“She served her suspension, and there were no issues after the fact?” he asked Superintendent Pat Law. “Can you explain?”

“Not here,” Law said.

“Terrell won’t be notified until after (tonight),” Yeater followed. “We take action without her knowledge?”

Law said Terrell would be able to respond by requesting a hearing. She has a right to a hearing afterward, he said.

Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools, said after the meeting teachers lacking tenure have to prove why they should be rehired.

“After three years it’s our burden to prove why they shouldn’t be hired,” she said. “That’s the way the system works.”

Merritt imagined Terrell would request a hearing.

“I would encourage her to do that,” he added.

Board members voted to approve the personnel matters by a 4-1 vote. Yeater was the lone no vote. He said his vote was not because of the names on the list, “but the ones left off.”

Yeater said he had additional comments, but would refrain.

Young, a first-year teacher, also was not extended a contract according to the personnel addendum. In fact, board members unanimously – and without discussion- voted to extend his suspension to 30 days.

Board members voted down the proposed early transfer of Christie Willis, principal at Jefferson Elementary Center, to become assistant director of federal programs. The change had sought to go into effect April 1, but board members and several school officials balked at the early change, preferring to maintain the initial July 1 date.

Officials noted Willis was “not bailing on the school.” The earlier date was requested by John Merritt, the federal programs director, who needed help preparing for summer programs.

Karen Brunicardi, director of elementary schools and prekindergarten programs, told the board in the “best interest of the school I would like her to finish the year.”

The board declined to approve the early transfer, voting it down by a 1-4 vote. Fox was the only affirmative vote.