PHS gym teacher to be reinstated

PARKERSBURG-After a 40-minute executive session with the Wood County Board of Education, Schools Superintendent Pat Law withdrew the recommended extended suspension of Parkersburg High teacher Jesse Young.

Young, a physical education teacher, has been suspended since March 7, for an inappropriate Harlem Shake video filmed in class. Board members were poised to extend Young’s suspension Tuesday to May 3, a span of 65 days.

Instead, Young, who attended the meeting with his attorney Joe McFarland, will be reinstated to the classroom.

Law declined to state when Young would return to the classroom.

“I can’t discuss it,” he said.

Young and his attorney also declined to speak. Board members also made no comment.

Following the executive session, board members voted to move the item relating to Young up the agenda, bypassing public comments. Initially, the recommendation was slated to be handled after the public comments.

Instead, officials took the matter up before anyone had a chance to speak and Law withdrew the item from the agenda.

However, several still spoke on Young’s behalf. There were 16 speakers signed up to address officials, all but two of whom were slated to talk about Young.

Young’s father and mother, grandfather, mother-in-law, wife, friends and students all spoke with regard to Young’s character.

“He made a mistake,” said Jack Brown, Jesse Young’s grandfather. “He wishes he could do it over.”

“Is the punishment worthy of the mistake?” he asked.

Brown said Young will make a wonderful teacher if board members would show him grace.

Young’s mother, Becky, said her son was trying to have fun with students and he had no idea what students were doing behind him. The dance was not choreographed, she said. And he had no idea the video would become public.

“He’s a good man who has been unduly wronged,” she said.

Student Dylan Tant also addressed the board and admitted to appearing in the video

“I regret it because of what happened,” he said referring to Young.

In addition to those who spoke, several of Young’s family members, friends and students attended the meeting. And many sent letters and emails to school system officials on his behalf.

Joe Smith, a former teacher, spoke on Young’s behalf, calling him an “inspiration,” with the “it” factor and “intangible qualities.”

Smith said Young has all the qualities to be a special teacher.

McFarland was slated to speak but deferred comment until the matter would again come before the board. Young, a three-year teacher, is one of three Wood County teachers not offered a contract for next year.

Bob Harris, assistant superintendent of human resources, said Young has requested a grievance hearing, set for April 26.