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10-08-05 Teacher suspended

By Janie Southard

  Celina High School teacher Dean Liggett has 10 days to request a hearing after he was suspended from his job without pay during a special board meeting Friday morning.

  Following a 40-minute executive session to which high school principal Curt Shellabarger was invited, board members unanimously approved -- in addition to the suspension -- a resolution of intent to consider the termination of Liggett's teaching contract and any supplemental contracts.

  The language of the resolution follows prescribed legal procedure as required by the state.

  The specific grounds for the actions against the teacher was cited as "using classroom time to gamble with students for extra credit points for student grades."

  Following the meeting, Superintendent Matt Miller responded to allegations made by Liggett in a Daily Standard article published Thursday referring to the incident last year involving use of Liggett's classroom computer for personal reasons. Liggett was prohibited from using the Internet for the remainder of the 2004 semester.  Liggett told the newspaper he was looking at Las Vegas hotel websites to compare prices for a trip he planned.

  "We have records of what sites he visited. They were all gambling related but had nothing to do with hotels," Miller said.

  Board President Matt Gilmore made reference to Liggett's claim in the Thursday article that the present incident of gambling for bonus points in the classroom amounts to winning up to 20 points for the whole class. The teacher said students' overall grades are based on achieving a maximum of 1,000 total points for the American History course.

  Gilmore said the board refutes the assertion he has any such grading scale. "We further refute his statement that it only took 'three minutes to play five hands of Texas Hold'em," he said noting there is reason to believe it took as much as 20 minutes of class time for the poker hands.

  Liggett, who has taught at Celina for eight years, is being represented by attorneys through the Ohio Education Association. No one other than the board members, Shellabarger and the Daily Standard reporter attended the open meeting where Liggett was disciplined.


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