MONCKS CORNER — The Berkeley Middle School teacher who is refusing to go back into the classroom until she feels safe from a perceived student threat met with school district officials Tuesday but was no closer to returning when the meeting ended.
Lori Teuton and her attorney met with Berkeley Superintendent Chester Floyd and a school district attorney for about two hours. Details of what transpired were kept quiet.
Teuton's lawyer, Larry Kobrovsky, said options were discussed and "decisions need to be made by Friday." He declined to elaborate.
Floyd said he thought the meeting was productive and hopes a resolution can be reached. But he said it would be inappropriate to comment on the ongoing personnel matter before then.
Pam Bailey, the school district's public relations director, said both sides are working toward a resolution and that "communication is key."
Teuton on Monday refused her principal's request to return to class after being put on administrative leave with pay last week. She says a disruptive 13-year-old female student had threatened to "cut me with a knife" in November and that school administrators would not transfer the student out of her classroom.
School officials say they were not able to confirm the incident and that proper procedures were followed in dealing with the teacher's complaint. Teuton is in her second year at the school and teaches eighth-grade English language arts. She's been teaching for 12 years.
At Tuesday's school board meeting in Moncks Corner, two school board members questioned Floyd about their lack of knowledge of the situation. Board member Jim Royce said he felt "blindsided" when he read about the teacher's complaint in the newspaper Tuesday morning without any prior warning from district administrators.
Floyd said he wasn't aware that Teuton had decided to go public with her grievance until late Monday night. The superintendent said the district deals with personnel situations involving teachers and supervisors on a daily basis, and the overwhelming majority of them are kept in house and not made public.
"The school district did not elect to have that story in the paper," Floyd said.
Royce said the school district tries to value its teachers, and he's upset that one teacher felt compelled to hire an attorney over an unsettled discipline matter. Royce said the school board has taken a harsh stance on discipline cases during expulsion hearings this year, and he worries Teuton's situation could hinder the board's progress in attempting to control classroom disruptions.
Another board member, Jimmy Hinson, also said he would have preferred to hear about the case before reading about it in the newspaper. He also questioned why board members weren't informed about an incident last week at the Boulder Bluff Elementary School cafeteria where children with unpaid lunch balances had hot trays of food taken away from them and replaced with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Hinson said he's been "chastised" at work about both incidents.
"We need as much heads-up as we can get," he said.