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Intimidation led to suspension of Niles teacher, records reveal



Published: Wed, February 24, 2010 @ 12:06 a.m.

By Jordan Cohen

NILES — The 10-day suspension of a longtime McKinley High School math teacher followed “intimidating” behavior, according to school records.

Factoring into the decision to suspend Kelly Newbrough was what Superintendent Rocco Adduci called “unprofessional” comments by the teacher to two students and unauthorized contact with the students’ parents, which included going onto company property where the father is employed, according to the suspension notification letter.

Newbrough, 42, a teacher in the district for 16 years, was suspended without pay last Friday by the board of education for “violating board policies.” At the time, Adduci declined to divulge the specifics behind the suspension, citing an “agreement” he had completed with the teacher.

Adduci, however, provided the suspension letter detailing the teacher’s actions after The Vindicator filed a request under the Ohio Public Records Act.

Under the law, all records of a public office must be made available for public inspection unless they are exempt from disclosure. Disciplinary documents do not fall under any exemption.

The superintendent’s letter in Newbrough’s personnel file recounts the series of incidents that began Feb. 1 when Newbrough told a student who was tapping a pen that he “wanted to take that pen and stab him in the neck with it.” Adduci called that a violation of the Code of Professional Conduct.

According to the letter, the situation escalated four days after the superintendent discussed the comment with Newbrough when he reportedly pulled the student’s sister from her lunch period, demanded her mother’s cell-phone number and told her he was authorized to do so by an assistant principal. Adduci’s letter says there was no such authorization.

Newbrough then took the girl to her brother’s class and had him excused to inquire if he had felt threatened by his comments. The boy said he did, and his sister returned to class in tears after the confrontation.

Adduci wrote that Newbrough tried to call the mother more than 10 times and then told the office that he was sick and had to leave school. However, Adduci wrote that Newbrough, instead of going home, went unannounced to the father’s place of employment “behind a closed gate, entered an unauthorized area and trespassed on the employer’s property.”

It does not state whether Newbrough spoke with the father.

The superintendent described Newbrough’s actions as intimidating to the two students and their family.

“It interfered with our investigation and caused the family to be fearful of sending their children to school,” Adduci wrote.

Newbrough’s personnel file, also supplied by the superintendent at the Vindicator’s request, does not contain records of previous disciplinary issues. Adduci said the teacher never has had any previous reprimands or warnings during his 16 years with the Niles district.

Scott Blake, press secretary for the Ohio Department of Education, said there are no records of any previous disciplinary action against Newbrough in the state’s database. Blake said he is barred by state law from discussing whether ODE is investigating the suspension.

Adduci disclosed that his agreement not to publicly discuss the teacher’s misconduct was solely with Newbrough and not with the bargaining union, the Niles Classroom Teachers Association. Herman Pipe, a labor relations consultant for the Ohio Education Association, the parent union of the NCTA, confirmed the superintendent’s statement.

“The union was not involved because [Newbrough] had secured his own attorney, and for that reason, the union does not know whether a grievance will be filed,” Pipe said.

Adduci emphasized his refusal to discuss the incidents publicly did not mean he intended to deny access to public records.

“You obviously have the right to public records, but my obligation is not to report [about them],” Adduci said. “My obligation is to defend school policy.”

Attempts to contact Newbrough to comment were unsuccessful.

“He is a very good teacher, and we will welcome him back upon completion of his suspension [March 5] to continue doing the job we know he can do for the students of Niles,” Adduci said.


Comments

1Garrison45183(8 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Based on the FOIA request by the Vindicator and if the facts are true, this person should be fired. We can't allow vigilantly like behavior to exist by a teacher in our public schools. School board policies are in place for a reason. The parents of these students should file a formal complaint with the police department and the school board and pressure the school board in to firing the teacher. Any respectable school board would dismiss this teacher due to the situation. Would any parent want this teacher interacting with your chid(ren)?

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2AtownParent(558 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Not saying what the teacher did was completely inappropriate, out of control, and intimidating to the sister of the student he actually had issue with, but it seems like there had to have something more than a tapping pen for this guy to go off like he did.

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3Woody(451 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

He sounds obsessed. The people of Niles should demand a psych evaluation before he steps back into a classroom.

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4Lifes2Short(3867 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Has to be more then what there saying. A 16 year teacher with no disciplinary record doing this. More then just a "tapping of a pen."

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5mahoningvalley12(36 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

maybe it was a joke....obviously in bad taste because this was not a kid that you could joke with but that is what it sounds like to me.
Like when you tell one of your kids to put something done before you hit them with it...I guess it is not this teachers place to deal with issues in this manner but it sounds like it could be just a big misunderstanding and he was trying to clear it up by speaking with the parents.

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6L0L(608 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

What happened to when teachers and principals were allowed to paddle students? We're far from that. How students behave and even more so how student's parents react and defend their "angel" child is ridiculous these days. I'll be waiting for the follow up article where the parents are suing everyone.

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7FifthAve(168 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

***********************************************
To be sure, this teacher made an inappropriate comment to the student. Even in jest, he should have selected a better way to get the kid from tapping his pen.

However, the superintendent has made too much of this comment and is ultimately responsible for its escalation. What was discussed in this meeting must have threatened the job security of this veteran teacher because this teacher was "set off" and attempted to clear his name. There is no doubt in my mind that the teacher wanted to talk to the family members because this incident has been blown way out of proportion.

Think about this. The teacher wanted to find out from the sister whether her brother really felt threatened by him. She breaks down in tears. Over what? She is needlessly hysterical. This part of the story is very suspicious.

Asking for the mother's cell number is not a crime. Teachers don't need permission from the principal to get a cell number. In fact, what this teacher attempted to do was to contact the parents to clear this issue up. He took matters in to his own hands, no doubt, to prove that this was a stupid, innocuous statement that was not taken seriously at the time.

As teachers, we are expected to make contact with parents. In some schools, in fact, going to the homes of students and the work place to meet with parents is an alternative to PTA meetings and parent conferences. With the busy schedules of parents, it is our obligation to find alternative ways to meet with parents so that we can better support the success of each student.

My guess is that this kid is not passing his math class. He has therefore (with the help of his sister )hyperbolized this threat in attempt to get rid of a teacher who is not passing him or to intimidate the teacher in giving him a better grade than he deserves!
*********************************************

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8Garrison45183(8 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

To FifthAve:Did you not read the entire article and information contained in the FOIA request. The teacher spoke with the Superintendent about the comment (he was on notice at that point) and then escalated the situation by pulling the student's sister from class, contacting the parent 10 times via the telephone, and then lied to his supervisors so he could leave the campus and go to the parents place of work. How could you even justify his actions? I hope you are not a teacher or a person who works with children.

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9Mooneygrad72(42 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I did read the entire article and I am in total agreement with 5th ave. As teachers, and I am not in Y-town or the local area-- we are told to handle situations, similar to this, on our own. A stupid statement on the teacher's part, but how many of us have said simiiar things to our own children. " if you don;t stop I'll ...... " Perhaps the teacher wanted to apolize to the parents; perhaps the phone went to message and he didn't think it was a message to be heard on a tape, without the ability for the parents to question him; perhaps the mailbox was full.. there are millions of reasons why a teacher may call 10X. As for going to the company--a big mistake, but he is paying for that !!! Lost wages and being put on unpaid leave is huge. it impacts his retirement for the future, leaves a mark in his personnel file that will follow him if he decides to look for another job. Belive me- he is paying his dues for a mistake. Let the district handle it under contractual rules and the State Ed. code. Fairly treated/ enough discussion.

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10walter_sobchak(1753 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I believe that the teacher meant this as a joke. SNL did a skit before the 1988 Pres. election where Dan Akroyd played Bob Dole and Dana Carvey played George H.W. Bush. When Bush got Dole mad, Akroyd dryly stated, in the best Dole manner, holding up his bad arm with the ever-present pen, "George, how would you like it if I took this pen and stabbed you in the neck?" Actuall, an extremely funny satire but not appropriate for a teacher-stuent interaction. However, there has to be more to this story. It makes no sense that a person would make all these attempts at contact after being put on notice. Good thing he wasn't a postal worker!

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11Lifes2Short(3867 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

garrison

This is only one side of the story. Wait till we hear from the teacher to see what exactly happened. If what he is accused of and he did, then he was wrong, but I can't see a teacher with the credentials he has going to this extreme over this. Really doesn't make sense.

"Newbrough’s personnel file does not contain records of previous disciplinary issues. Adduci said the teacher never has had any previous reprimands or warnings during his 16 years with the Niles district."

"Scott Blake said there are no records of any previous disciplinary action against Newbrough in the state’s database."

"“He is a very good teacher, and we will welcome him back upon completion of his suspension [March 5] to continue doing the job we know he can do for the students of Niles,” Adduci said."

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12Garrison45183(8 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Lifes2Short: He may be a very good teacher with a stellar record. I wouldn't contest those facts. The information in the reprimand clearly states his actions towards the family and students. He took his actions too far and tried to rectify the comment he made towards the student by acting as the investigator, enforcer, and mediator in the situation. Again, what teacher would make such a comment?

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13Lifes2Short(3867 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Lets wait till we hear the other side of the story to see what exactly transpired. These days everything is blown out of context especially dealing with high school students.

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14Silence_Dogood(1226 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Garrison45183
It would seem that your fear that this person FifthAve is in fact a teacher. If you would note the following sentence the he/she used.

"As teachers, we are expected to make contact with parents"
Underline the inclusive "we", that should say it all.

This is just another example of a teacher coming to the defence of another regardless of the facts presented. It would seem that the Teacher's intent was to convey a verbal threat to this child by the words he chose. If I was this childs father I would have loved for him to show up at my house or place of work. He would have been beaten into the ground like a peice of dirt.

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15MISHTON(2 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

It sounds like he is having a breakdown like another poster suggested. I hope he is evaluated before he returns to work with kids. Unfortunately these days you cant be too careful so if my child was in his class I would want to be assured that this was a one time mistake. Ive never heard of a teacher going after a parent at work or calling ten times-thats strange. Sounds like he has a temper problem but the whole stalking thing is creepy. I feel bad for the kids and hope the family has a restraining order.

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16Garrison45183(8 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Silence_Dogwood-I wonder what the response would be if the student made the same comment to the teacher? How would everyone react and comment if the student showed up at the teacher's house? FifthAve actually sent a note directly to me explaining that he has been educator for 40 years and he sounds like a real stand-up guy who loves his job.

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17Silence_Dogood(1226 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Garrison45183
I wonder what the response would be if the student made the same comment to the teacher? How would everyone react

The answer would depend on which School system it occured in. If it was a Youngstown school it more then likely would have been brushed under the table. From what I hear dear Ms Wendy Webb has a track record of NOT backing up the Teachers. Other school systems would I am sure take a more appropriate response.
As for FifthAve he/she may in fact be a stand up Guy and a great Teacher, but when you read his/her comments it reads as a forgone conclusion that the child was at fault for 95% of the problem.

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18Lifesnadir(164 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Tylerp9p, hon, if you are a high school student as you state you are, I can only hope you've got early college entrance status. I'm serious. College English professors will cherish your writing ability; you write better than most adults with a HS diploma and better than many adults in high positions. You also seem to grasp psychological terminology; might you pursue a psych BA and Masters someday? You'd also excel in journalism. I hope you continue writing, whatever direction you take after HS.

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19walter_sobchak(1753 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

WOW!
Tylerp9p, you write like a trained psychologist. "mental and sociological flaws, sociopathic behavior, ad infinitum", it's almost as if you are a teacher or school psychologist impersonating a student. You see, you wrote over 400 words. When I was in high school, or college for that matter, I had no inclination of wasting my valuable time supporting any of my teachers, no matter how good they were.

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20queenkeno(1 comment)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

We all need to hear the other side of the story,maybe speak with others that heard what went on ,i to work with high school kids and i think this has just been blown up ,i would like to hear Mr.Newbroughs side and maybe hear from the kid himself or his parents

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21walter_sobchak(1753 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Tylerp9p,
Sorry, I ain'y buyin' it! When I was in HS, no way we would waste our time like this bothering about a teacher. Seems unnatural. All me and my buddies cared about was looking at girl's bodies, talking sports, and finding out what stores would sell us beer on the weekends!

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22Silence_Dogood(1226 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

tyler9p
Thanks for the insight.

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23ElPolloRetrasado(199 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Hey, we now hear that this teacher was intimidating a student but yet I haven't seen one thing from PenguinBird who was all about the privacy of someone who was bullying a child!!! Hey PenguinBird where are you now you piece of shi!!!!

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24Catz1269(8 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Lmao ElPollo!!

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