Allen school board rescinds teacher's job offer

From the left, Allen Elementary School Principal Jeff Hiatt, Allen High School Principal Tony Wellington and Allen Board of Education President Robert Hammonds are shown during a special board meeting Monday. The board voted to rescind its employment offer to special education teacher Michelle Roberson.

ALLEN — The Allen Board of Education rescinded its employment offer to special education teacher Michelle Roberson during a special meeting Monday.

Board members discussed Roberson’s employment status behind closed doors, then voted 3-0 in open session to accept Superintendent Bill Caruthers’ recommendation and repeal the job offer. The board’s vice president, Jeff Maloy, and board member Jason Watkins were absent.

The board also tapped Dennis Smith to fill Roberson’s slot at Allen Junior High and High School for the 2018-19 school year. Smith previously served as the special education director for Holdenville Public Schools but is new to the Allen school district.

Board President Robert Hammonds said the board voted in July to hire Roberson, but he declined to comment on why the superintendent recommended rescinding the job offer on Monday.

Another board member, Jami Rinehart, said she could not comment on the matter because it involved district personnel. She said she thought that district officials had vetted Roberson thoroughly before offering her the job.

“As far as I know, they had done their research,” Rinehart said.

Caruthers also declined to comment on the reasons for his recommendation, on the advice of the district’s attorney. He did say, however, that Roberson had never signed a contract with the district.

Roberson, whose name at the time was Michelle D. Childress, made local headlines in February 2014, when she was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication at Washington Elementary School in Ada. Childress told reporters from KFOR in Oklahoma City that she was sick with swine flu when she was asked to fill in that day, and the medication she had taken made her dizzy. Childress said she rushed to the bathroom and when she emerged, police arrested her on suspicion of public intoxication.

Documents provided by Ada police, who responded to a call from Washington Elementary School about an “intoxicated person,” indicate officers could smell the “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” coming from Childress. Police reports describe Childress’ speech as “slurred” and describe her as “unsteady on her feet” at the time of the incident.

Childress told the TV station that she had a margarita the night before the incident, but a police breathalyzer indicated that her blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, according to KFOR. Ada police records indicate Pontotoc County Justice Center officials recorded Childress’ blood-alcohol level at .263 percent. Under Oklahoma law, a person with a blood-alcohol concentration higher than 0.08 percent is considered impaired.

Court records indicate that Childress legally changed her name to Roberson in 2017. She told the court she sought the change because her children were grown and she did not want to keep her married name.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.