The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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May 23, 2013

Content of book, students' access to it at issue in hearing for suspended teacher

JOPLIN, Mo. — A standing-room only crowd is present at the hearing this morning to decide the fate of suspended Joplin Middle School teacher Randy Turner, who has asked for the hearing before the board of education.

Among the issues is an allegation that Turner posted a link on a blog to his book, “No Child Left Alive,” a  fictional account of a school administration obsessed with preparing students for state testing at a cost of not allowing teachers to actually do their jobs. That novel, published as an e-book, contains numerous passages of a graphic, sexual nature.

The blog was intended to be something for students and former students, the district contends, an allegation that Turner disputes, according to an attorney who accompanied him to the hearing.

District officials also allege Turneer recorded a personnel meeting with the school’s human resources director even though he was told it was against district policy to record that meeting. Turner’s attorney argues that under Missouri law Turner was allowed to record that conversation as long as he was present.

Turner was removed from his classroom and placed on administrative leave last month after an investigation by school district officials triggered by a complaint to the district.

Turner was placed on leave — a standard procedure — after the school district received a complaint about him from a district employee on April 4, according to Superintendent C.J. Huff. After an investigation into the complaint by the administration, a 28-page “statement of charges” was given to Turner on April 15, with a set of additional charges delivered to him earlier this month, Huff said.

Turner, who has yet to testify today, has declined several requests to comment on the record to the Globe.

While not making any details of the complaint public before the meeting, the notice of the hearing states that children younger than 18 will not be permitted into the hearing unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian because of the “graphic content” that is expected to be discussed.

 

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