Teacher on leave until trial - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Teacher on leave until trial

February 7, 2005

Albany- Radium Springs Middle School teacher Mike Lewis is out of the classroom and off the payroll for now.

He's charged with simple battery for grabbing a student around the neck.

"Only if he is exonerated would he get back pay or anything like that," said Superintendent Sally Whatley.

The school board is how situations like these are usually handled when teachers are charged with crimes. It could prejudice Mike Lewis' case if the school board made a decision on disciplinary action before he goes to trial.

But the Superintendent knows the problem is bigger than just one teacher. That's why she's getting outside help to get to the bottom of the problem. Whatley is asking for an outside investigation at the school, even though she's still conducting one of her own.

"Regardless of what my findings are, there might be those that still find that suspect, whichever side," Whatley said.

She's asked the Professional Standards Commission,the body that governs teachers' certification and code of ethics, to look into the entire situation involving physical violence at the school.

"Because allegedly there's been a cover-up of physical violence at Radium Springs Middle School and there have been a number of allegations and we just need to get to the bottom of all that."

The PSC is the same organization that will decide if Michael Lewis keeps his state teacher's certification.

The allegations of physical violence by teachers at Radium Springs Middle School arose last week from a memo sent by assistant principal Billy Orr to school principal Geraldine Hudley detailing eight different incidents during the past four years.

The memo also implied the situation had been covered-up, at the request of Principal Hudley.

Whatley faxed the letter to the PSC on Friday and hopes the investigation at the school will begin in the next several weeks.

"I got a school that's in turmoil and I want some resolution as quickly as I can and I didn't want this to be something that is drawn out."

The sooner the truth is known, the better it will be for students.

posted at 9:52 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com

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