Against a backdrop of support by some students, the three Rim Country Middle School teachers placed on administrative leave by Principal Frank Larby returned to their jobs this week.
Science teacher Gloria Joe, counselor Ginger Sparks and English teacher Louis Crabtree met separately with Payson Unified School District Superintendent Herb Weissenfels Monday to learn the results of an investigation conducted "to learn the facts."
Sparks, who was accused of making remarks critical of next year's RCMS schedule at a faculty meeting, returned to school following the meeting with Weissenfels.
"I was completely exonerated," Sparks said. "I was back at work on Monday. There was no basis for these charges, and that's all I'm going to say."
Crabtree, who was accused of making a disparaging remark about a school meeting to a secretary in the school gym, agreed to write a letter of apology to the secretary and was allowed to resume his teaching duties Tuesday.
"I'm very happy to be back," Crabtree said.
Joe, who also was accused of criticizing next year's schedule at the faculty meeting, was given a one-day suspension with pay and returned to work Wednesday. She was not reluctant to talk about the experience.
During their meeting, Joe said she got the impression Weissenfels didn't think the incident was as serious as it had been portrayed.
"All of us were charged with four things, and (Weissenfels) said he didn't find any of that, especially insubordination, so he put me down for unprofessional," she said. "I could fight it, but since it's the same as my fifth administrative leave day, it doesn't make any difference at all to me."
Meanwhile, several students showed up at school Monday wearing homemade T-shirts reading "Freedom of Speech?" and "We want our teachers back!" Signs with similar messages were hung in the RCMS hallways.
Joe said she appreciated the students' support.
"I like that little bit of passion, that little bit of craziness they all have," she said. "It's fun to teach at the middle school. They're a great bunch of kids."
Larby, who is back from a conference in Florida, did not return phone calls from the Roundup.