October 12, 2006

Long-Time FFA Advisor Bill Cottrell Submits Resignation

For the first time in 22 years, Scotland County R-I School District is searching for a new Vocational Agriculture teacher. Long-time instructor and Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor Bill Cottrell will be resigning at the completion of the first semester of the current school year.

On September 29 the SCR-I board of education voted 7-0 to accept Cottrells resignation.

To ensure continuity of the districts agriculture program, the district has begun an immediate search for a new teacher, and hopes to have that person in place as soon as possible, reported the school district in a written statement to the press.

Superintendent Dave Shalley stated that when an appropriate candidate for the job is identified, the board will decide whether the instructor will begin immediately or at the end of the first semester.

The board statement indicated that Cottrell has agreed to remain active to assist a new instructor to complete the first semester. He also possibly could take leave, pending the effective date of the resignation if the situation arises.

The district is committed to providing the best agricultural and overall educational program possible, the statement read. We appreciate the support of the community regarding the program, and will continue to work with all students, parents, alumni, and other patrons to ensure that all students receive the highest quality educational services.

The resignation culminated a nearly month-long period of speculation regarding the possibility of losing one of the schools instructors after the district responded to a number of inquiries regarding the status of one of its employees.

In early September, information began circulating in the community regarding possible action being taken by the school district in regards to Cottrell. A number of individuals met with the district administrators and the school board to inquire about the situation, which led to the issuance of the following public statement on September 15:

As most people in the community are aware, a school district may not provide information about matters involving individual employees. However, the district can tell you that, on occasion, a school district may receive notice of concerns regarding a particular employees performance and/or conduct. When this occurs, the district investigates the matter thoroughly. The investigation includes a review of the employees performance and conduct history, as well as documents and other information that will demonstrate whether the performance concerns are valid and/or whether the conduct reported has actually occurred. The district does not take action against any employee without specific, credible, and objective evidence that such action is appropriate and necessary. An investigation of this type always includes an opportunity for the employee and/or his or her representative to explain the employees version of the events.

The district can confirm that it is in the process of responding to concerns about a particular employee. It has followed and will continue to follow the procedures described above. Although the district cannot provide more specific information in response to the inquiries received, we can assure you that the districts first priority is to provide a positive and appropriate educational and working environment for students and staff. This priority serves as the bedrock foundation and guiding principle for all actions taken by the district with respect to the types of situations described above. We are confident that the school community shares the districts commitment to this priority, as well.

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