published Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Chattanooga: State flags Signal Mountain Middle High staffers’ licenses

Five Signal Mountain Middle-High School staff members have had their licenses flagged by the Tennessee State Board of Education after being suspended for drinking while chaperoning a senior class trip.

Should the flagging of the licenses be upheld by an administrative law judge, then those staff members would not be able to work in any Tennessee schools for one year.

Hamilton County School Board Chairman Mike Evatt said the schools had received notification of the state action on Tuesday.

Those whose licenses were flagged are counselors Lee Ann Welch and Anne Cushing, Assistant Principal Jason McKinney; teacher Steve Redman and counselor Leslie Sharpe.

These staff members, as well as college advisor Sandy Mitchum and registrar Lizetta Paturalski, were given unpaid suspensions in April after the county schools’ central office staff investigated the chaperones’ behavior during the trip to the Bahamas.

That information was then passed along to the state, Evatt said.

“I guess they thought this was serious enough to do something further about it,” Evatt said.

At the time of the initial suspension, investigators found that the seven drank on the trip, though it appears none drank with the 75 seniors.

Sixteen students were disciplined after the trip for violating school policy by drinking when their cruise ship was docked in the Bahamas.

The staff members — which include teachers and guidance counselors — have 30 days to appeal the state’s decision, Evatt said.

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