School Board Refuses Appeal To Release Teacher

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Payson High School girls physical education teacher Audra Judd's appeal to the school board to accept her resignation has been denied.

At a special meeting Nov. 30, the board told the second-year teacher she would have to remain on the job until her contract expires in May 2006.

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Audra Judd

Judd addressed the board during an executive session, however, because it is a violation of Arizona law to discuss any issue that transpired, what the teacher said will remain private.

However, Judd said when she submitted her resignation in October, that she wanted to leave so she could marry and move to Safford where her fiance lived.

After the board returned from executive session, member Don Engler moved, seconded by Michael Horton, to not accept Judd's resignation.

Engler told Judd and the audience that while he wishes the best for her, the board takes teaching contracts very seriously and it would take dire circumstances for any teacher to be released from a contract.

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Don Engler

Horton said he believed changing teachers in mid-year is disruptive and not in the best interest of the students.

Board member Vicki Holmes said the board's chief concern is the welfare of the students. She also said Judd has a reputation as a fine teacher and it is in the best interests of the students for her to remain on the job until the end of the school year.

Judd did not wish to comment on the board's decision, but has indicated to school administrators and fellow teachers she will probably remain on the job and fulfill her contract.

Judd's resignation was originally to come before the board at its October meeting but was tabled because all members were not present. At a Nov. 18 meeting, the board voted to not allow Judd to step away from her yearlong contract.

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Michael Horton

The Nov. 30 meeting was called partly to allow Judd to appeal that decision.

The board's decision represents a reversal of a stand that took place last summer when PHS chemistry teacher Jerome Lubetz's resignation was accepted so he could become a firefighter.

Also, three years ago Rim Country Middle School social studies teacher Byron Quinlan was allowed to resign only weeks after the school year started.

In resigning, Quinlan said he was no longer interested in teaching at RCMS.

The board made its first decision to not accept mid-year teacher resignations at a Sept. 26 meeting when members refused to allow PHS social studies teacher and boys basketball coach Scott Dean to step down.

Just two days later, however, Dean packed up his belongings and departed the school campus saying he was bound for Lake Region State College in Devil's Lake, N.D. to become associate athletic director and boys basketball coach.

Dean said he was leaving because of a dispute with the district about the years of service with which he had been credited.

Dean's decision to walk out of his contract could put his Arizona teaching certification in jeopardy.

Under Arizona statutes, the state board of education can revoke teaching credentials for unprofessional conduct such as breaking signed contracts.

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