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Joplin Middle School teacher/author fired by school board - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Middle School teacher/author fired by school board

Updated June 7, 2013:  Joplin School Board attorney John Nicholas has confirmed that Joplin Middle School teacher Randy Turner has been fired.

Nicholas says the school board voted 7 to 0 to terminate Turner, but says he could not provide any further details at this time.

 

Updated May 24, 2013 at 4:30 PM CST:  A hearing to determine the future of a Joplin middle school teacher concluded with no decision.

A crowd of students and parents demonstrated outside a school board hearing Thursday in support of East Middle School teacher Randy Turner.

Inside, Turner testified to the school board saying he mistakenly posted a link to a free download of his book "No Child Left Alive" on an old blog.

The superintendent says the book, with sexual content, was dangled before students both on the blog and on Turner's Facebook page, where 182 students are his Facebook friends.

The hearing continued late into the evening without a decision on Turner's future.

"He has not been terminated, as of now he is an employee with the district," says Joplin School district attorney John Nicholas.  "Until a decision is made we won't know if he is terminated or remains with the district."

The district's attorney says a decision will be made within the 14 days.

"It is always a difficult process anytime a long-standing teacher or any teacher for that matter is undergoing a termination hearing, it is always a tough decision to make by the school board," says Nicholas.  "They will consider all the evidence and make their decision."

 

Reported May 23, 2013 at 5:04 PM CST by Lisa Olliges:  A public hearing is underway for East Middle School Communication Arts teacher Randy Turner.  The hearing pits the Joplin Schools administration against some parents and students testifying in support of Turner.

Turner himself testified to the school board Thursday afternoon.

He's accused of violating 10 district policies.  Part of the district's investigation is one of Turners several blogs and one of several books he's written.

The books "No Child Left Alive" and "Scars of the Tornado" were both given to board members as evidence.

Lisa Orem of Joplin Schools Special Services testified to filing a complaint about Turners book because of sexual content.  She then discovered that an old Turner blog called "RM 210 Discussion" had a link to the book.

"They would be able to look at the blog, know their teacher wrote it and be curious to read the book," says Orem.  "I knew the children that were stated in the 'Scars' book, I knew those children and I knew their parents and I know their parents wouldn't want their child to be reading that book."

Turner and his attorney say he mistakenly placed a link on an old blog called "RM210 Discussion".  They contend district officials who discovered it never asked him to remove the link.

"I never intentionally set out to expose young people to this book," says Turner.

A parent of one of Turner's students says students didn't know about the old blog.

"Students knew nothing about that blog - have a separate blog for them for classroom discussion and homework," says Amber Eidem.

The district accuses Turner of immoral conduct, exposing students to inappropriate materials in that book.

Of eight students interviewed by Tina Smith, the Human Resources Director investigating Turner, one student said she had knowledge of "No Child Left Alive".

In another Turner book, "Scars of the Tornado", administrators allege Turner did not have adequate permission slips to use student written items for the book.

Concerns were also raised about possible profits from the "Scars" book.  Turner stated on his other blogs plans to give back to schools and charities if the book profits, but he testified he's $4,500 in the hole for the book.

Superintendent CJ Huff testified late this afternoon that he would not take back the charges after hearing testimony from Turner today.

Before the hearing current and former students of Turner protested in support, then moved inside.  Minors were allowed to attend only if they were accompanied by a parent.

"I'm upset because he has been such a great teacher, he has put his whole self into his teaching for his students," says Melody Lowery, a former student of Turner's.

Some of the students would later get a chance to testify but the school board will have to weight that against Turner's book and whether or not its own policies were violated in a way to warrant taking away his job.

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