WSB: Douglas teacher fired over domestic violence incident

A Get Schooled reader alerted me today to this news story on WSBTV.com:

A Douglasville teacher has been shut out of the classroom following an off-campus scuffle with her on-again off-again boyfriend.

Megan Whelpley said she picked up a knife and struck her boyfriend during a domestic dispute, and as a result, police charged her with aggravated assault. Whelpley said she tried to push her boyfriend away, but he got cut in the process.

“He had a knife to my face. I could hear and feel it cutting my hair and I thought, oh, this is it. I was scared … I was 100 percent scared,” said Whelpley.The district attorney’s office later dropped the charges against Whelpley, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue criminal charges.

But the Douglas County School District had already decided to terminate Whelpley’s employment with Alexander High School, where she served as a literature teacher and drama coach.

Whelpley acknowledges a long-standing domestic dispute with her boyfriend, and says she did everything to avoid any real life drama.“I got away from him and ran upstairs. I shut the door and locked it, but he came in through a small utility door,” said Whelpley.

Whelpley showed Channel 2 Action News reporter Linda Stouffer documents she said prove her boyfriend has been violent to her in the past. Angry parents and students contacted Stouffer, saying they want Whelpley back in the classroom and that her firing was unjust.

Stouffer contacted the Douglas County School System, but the district refused to comment on the matter now, saying Whelpley may appeal the district’s decision.

(My first reaction to this: I hope this on-again, off-again boyfriend is now off for good.)

40 comments Add your comment

ScienceTeacher671

November 21st, 2009
8:34 am

I’m with you, Maureen…if she had documentation proving he had been violent in the past, why the “on-again”?

Joy in Teaching

November 21st, 2009
9:20 am

I still don’t understand why she was fired for defending herself against an abuser. Sounds like a group of administrators over reacted? I hope she has legal representation and is going to sue for her job back.

EducationCEO

November 21st, 2009
4:07 pm

And people wonder why young girls get in (and stay in) emotionally and physically abusive relationships. I hope she gets her job back but also some counseling and a restraining order. We DO NOT want to see this spill over into the school.

majii

November 21st, 2009
8:13 pm

It has been the practice of school systems for years to exercise an inordinate amount of control over their teachers’ lives even when there is no reason to do so. The Douglas County BOE took action to fire this young lady before knowing all of the facts. Now, its’ position is, no comment. It’s wonderful that the teacher has parents and students willing to go to bat for her. Unfortunately, this is a frequent occurrence, and sometimes systems can fire a teacher for the smallest infraction of a rule.

PLEEEEEEze

November 21st, 2009
8:33 pm

on again off again this lady does not appear to be a good judge of character and it affected her professional life i beleive the school fired her b/c of poor judgement and now it has come to this i can understand their position ladies pleeeeze chose better men!

PLEEEEEEze

November 21st, 2009
8:34 pm

Enter your comments here

@educationceo

November 21st, 2009
8:35 pm

I agree! why was she with him anyway he showed his true colors the first time1

V for Vendetta

November 22nd, 2009
8:26 am

I can’t believe this. A teacher gets fired for posting completely legal and innocuous pictures on Facebook, and everyone is on her side. A teacher who makes bad relationship choice but also has (so far) been proven to have done nothing wrong professionally gets fired, and everyone carps on her personal life.

Let me put it as simply as I know how: If the teacher is a successful teacher from the moment he or she arrives at school to the moment he or she leaves the campus, VERY LITTLE else should matter.

I hope she sues as well. It’s time the schools realize that we have lives, and we’re no longer willing to be slaves to their system.

mystery poster

November 22nd, 2009
9:34 am

This woman was the victim of a crime. Would she have been fired if she had been the victim of a stick-up?

This did NOT spill over into her professional life. I agree she should have sought counseling to free herself from the situation. Who knows, maybe she was.

There are many instances of teachers who make “poor judgments” in their personal life who do not lose their jobs because of it. Teachers who get DUIs, have affairs etc.

IMHO, this is a clear case of the school system overstepping its bounds.

HSteacher

November 22nd, 2009
10:13 am

Teachers are human beings and do have lives outside of school. One’s choice of relationship, unless it affects job performance, is immaterial (i.e. having this issue with another teacher in one’s school building or at a school-sponsored function). If the school system succeeds in firing this woman for what was a very personal, and non-job related incident, then what next? They got one to resign recently over a very innocuous picture, so anything goes, right? Next, they’ll be firing good teachers for being divorced, gay, or non-christian. Or how about the Jerry Springer love triangle in Clayton county of late? Does anyone here know that those women, who fought, cussed, and disrupted the entire school while children watched are still employed? They were “reassigned” to other schools! And yet, this woman is fired for simply defending herself in a personal situation totally disconnected from her professional life.

I have to admit, as a teacher, I’m becoming far too wary of what goes on in my life outside of school. I won’t even go to the grocery store without being neat and totally professional for fear someone might see me. I don’t go out with friends for drinks in public places anywhere on my side of town, and only then if it’s a small, less public location. As teachers, we have to be aware that we are always teachers, no matter where we are, and we have to take the moral high road. I don’t mind that a bit; I know my job is a matter of public scrutiny and I’m careful to keep my personal and professional life as separate as possible. That said, when something happens, as it will in this life, I expect the line between personal and professional to remain clear. This woman deserves that as well.

Hmm

November 22nd, 2009
12:02 pm

It obviously did not affect her professional life. Students AND parents have contacted the appropriate individual to get her job reinstated. Her personal life is her personal life. Her firing was unjust, and I suggest she take the school system to court for wrongfully firing her. The charges were dropped, plain and simple. She committed no crime. It’s so easy to be angry with her for “not getting out”, but she is still the victim. You can not judge her or her situation. It’s easier said than done to get out. Many women and men know that. Her getting out is irrelevant in this matter anyways. The point her is she was fired without justification.

pooky101

November 22nd, 2009
12:18 pm

What about the text messages to her students. That was against BOE policy. There are two sides to every story and we are only getting one. Why were the charges dropped? If she was arrested and charged then the police must have had enough evidence.

Tonya

November 22nd, 2009
1:13 pm

Enough is enough. Teachers need a real union immediately. Another “professional organization” is not the answer. Without a union, teachers will be denied of their constitutional rights.

Domer

November 22nd, 2009
1:15 pm

She was arrested and charged because when she defended herself she drew blood and while she was tackled by this home invader who held the knife to her face, ran it along her coat and cut her hair he did not cut her. He re-entered HER home with the knife and SHE called 911 for help. There was a misjudgement that night by the investigating officers and the District Attorney made the right call to drop any chares after reviewing all of the evidence. ANYONE can be arrested for ANYTHING, but you are innocent until proven guilty in America, well, unless you are being judged by the DCSS. The exboyfriend had an alcohol problem that he had battled on and off for the whole time they were together, thus the on and off again relationship. Supporting an alcoholic was her mistake. There is no BOE policy that deals with teacher-student text messages and the content of those texts to an 18 year old student were about the restraining order that had been granted her by a judge, it was also public record. Let this girl have her life back and be able to teach students not only subject matter but also a positive life lesson of how to appropriately handle personal crisis/situations. Right now the BOE has sent the messages to the students NOT to call for help when needed because you might get fired, do not report abuse because you might get fired and guilty until proven innocent.

Once Upon A Time

November 22nd, 2009
2:37 pm

Several years ago, following a rather successful career, I decided upon a career change in education. Several months of subing, both before and during my academic prep phase, allowed me to “get my feet wet”, as it were, and see just what it might be like. Not being completely unfamiliar with the industrial training apparatus, I attempted to make my subing experiences more than simply a “babysitter for a day” exercise, boning up on long-ago-mastered mysteries of “advanced arithmetic” and the like. Upon entering the “real world” portion of my teacher prep education, applying new-found skills as well as variations of “old platform tricks”, I couldn’t help but notice rather strange, yet subtle, behavior patterns from the “ole heads”, those seasoned professionals whose task it would be to pass on those traits of “school marmin”. While exhibiting the enthusiasm and caring attitudes one would expect of those responsible for passing the torch of knowledge, I couldn’t help but sense a mild whif of paranoia. As my “real world” training progressed, I observed two main factors which greately contributed to this sense of outside forces combining to make the job of the educator that much more difficult than it really had to be: 1) OVER-INVOLVED parents who feel that the teacher’s time should be completely and entirely focused on the “special needs” of their bratts, who, themselves, appeared to understand exactly how the “system” can be molded for their sole ammusement. 2) Principals who appear more concerned in “political consideration” than in actually supporting the teachers. When the “unhappy” kid would complain to mommy and daddy about mean ole teacher, mom and dad would, in turn, complain to the principal…one might imagine who occupied the seat on the bottom of that food chain!

Following a period of self-examination, I decided that, contrary to previous aspiration, a roomful of kids and I, under the prevailing state of public education, would go over like a turd in the punch bowl. Fortunately, I didn’t waste that much in terms of schooling. My prior education necessitated that I take a few courses, to include those “real world” practicums.

I have all the respect in the world for teachers who, besides performing their jobs, must wrestle, almost daily, with idiots, morons, and imbeciles…people who should know better, but, for reasons of expediency, fear, and self-doubt, PREFER TO TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT! As for me…”When the aircraft is afire, you best bail out”! Meanwhile, the smoking wreckage of public education sits as a monument to generations lost.

HSteacher

November 22nd, 2009
6:45 pm

Tonya- you are so right! As it is now, each system can have its own code of ethics specifically framed by the local board. There’s no consistency, and no state guidelines about how to handle this type of situation. It’s sad that another good teacher gets thrown under the bus over something in no way connected to the job.

Domer- public record and facts seldom matter when there’s a potentially nasty story in the works. The court of public opinion and the DCSS have already tried and convicted her. How sad…

HSteacher

November 22nd, 2009
8:40 pm

Once: being the “turd in the punch bowl” is exactly what education needs. I’ve been in the business over twenty years, and have learned that, in the best interests of children, being the “turd” is often what makes the real difference. Following your heart, not the crowd, is what makes teachers that children remember for a lifetime. My colleagues know, and many have commented positively, that my first priority is what’s best for the kids. You’d be surprised how many teachers you’ll find who support that and become better teachers because of that influence. What a shame that you let the nay-sayers push you out. You should come back and try again. I’ve been a much better teacher and person for staying true to my calling regardless of what some of my “esteemed” colleagues might think. In the end, the kids get it, and even those wanting to choose the easy way our or whine to mommy become better people because of that honest, caring influence of teachers who aren’t afraid to be the turd if necessary. Choose the school carefully and you’ll have the support to be a good teacher.

Philosopher

November 23rd, 2009
9:11 am

HSteacher: can we clone you, please… even if all that were a load of BS (which I don’t believe it is), that’s the kind of passion and commitment that caring parents want to hear…and in addition, the understanding that even the troubled, troubling kids, can become better because of your influence! WOW! That’s what I have been missing in these blogs…how courageous!

Bumby Johnson

November 23rd, 2009
9:19 am

It is obvious that the Douglas County Board of Education made a decision based on an allegation rather than a conviction. The teacher can request a hearing at the local board to appeal her illegal termination. If they refuse, she can appeal to the state Board of education. Her case is a slam dunk and she can sue the school district for back pay and legal fees.

ahsteacher

November 23rd, 2009
12:42 pm

Way to go BOE 1 permanent furlough down. How many more to go?

Once...

November 23rd, 2009
3:03 pm

HS Teach, thanks for your observations. Judging from your career tenure, I would imagine the teaching profession was a “first-line choice” (as opposed to a career change) for you. Much is said about the benefits of introducing the “male element” into the predominantly female-led classroom environment. As a former military guy, I was/am accustomed to commanding…and teaching…young folks, kids who, for the most part, are (somewhat) disciplined. It was, and remains, my conclusion that, while today’s kids both seek and welcome firm direction, both parents and the ed elite remain derilict in recognizing and supporting this tenet. Inasmuch as major career decisions are made both on controllable and uncontrollable factors, the one uncontrollable is time, particularly in the career-change scenario. BESIDES, AIRPLANES DON”T TALK BACK…THEY DO AS THEY’RE “TOLD”!

Judy

November 24th, 2009
8:23 am

HSteacher, just a quick update. At least one of the two teachers “who fought, cussed, and disrupted the entire school while children watched” is in fact no longer employed with that system. You can search it here or google it.

HSteacher

November 24th, 2009
4:35 pm

Judy- I did, in fact, read that just recently (not until after I posted here, though). It was probably in her best interest to resign, but I don’t know for sure. As a comparison to the DCSS teacher, I think my point still stands. Thanks for the information!

Philosopher- you’d be surprised how many teachers like me there are. Often they’re not outspoken about it, and they often find themselves in a school that doesn’t encourage them. Good teachers tend to get less attention and definitely don’t make the papers. Their lives are hardly newsworthy. You know when you enter a school building who the passionate ones are. Listen to your children- they’ll let you know very quickly who’s who in the school.

jim kent

November 24th, 2009
9:28 pm

This teacher moved to Atlanta from Ohio in 2007. Prior to moving here she was a stripper in the cleveland area. She had her boyfriend arrested in febuary of 2008 for domestic violence. She is far from innocent

HSteacher

November 24th, 2009
11:48 pm

jim: What exactly does her past mean? She evidently makes bad choices for boyfriends? DUH! That doesn’t mean she can’t teach. She must have been pretty good as a teacher if parents are calling for her return. Her past avocation doesn’t have any bearing on her ability or professional qualifications as a teacher. When you consider the cost of college these days and the money that can be made as a stripper, I’d say she had a good head for money. I have a friend who is now a successful business owner who did just the same thing in the 80’s to pay for college- she had zero student loans dollars to pay at the end, and I had quite a few thousand. So what?

tt

November 25th, 2009
12:12 pm

Actually, this women should not be allowed around children..

She as a teacher should be above all of this!! A stripper in Ohio and also married women, watch your husbands around this one.

ccleveland joe

November 25th, 2009
2:43 pm

jim kent

November 24th, 2009
9:28 pm
This teacher moved to Atlanta from Ohio in 2007. Prior to moving here she was a stripper in the cleveland area. She had her boyfriend arrested in febuary of 2008 for domestic violence. She is far from innocent
Hey Jim kent
Does she work on her vacations in CLE I think I have seen her before. I bet she makes more stripping than she ever would as a teacher. Funny I bet there will be a few BOE members paying her for that service. Anyway you look at it they are still paying her, isn’t that ironic. Reguardless, if you pulled all the skeletons out of the closets of teachers, staff and board members, it would make a great Halloween party. It all seems ridiculous to me.

ccleveland joe

November 26th, 2009
10:24 am

jim kent

November 24th, 2009
9:28 pm
This teacher moved to Atlanta from Ohio in 2007. Prior to moving here she was a stripper in the cleveland area. She had her boyfriend arrested in febuary of 2008 for domestic violence. She is far from innocent
Hey jim kent,

Hey jim kent. does she work on her breaks. I think I have seen her before. She probably makes more doing that than being a teacher. Its silly I bet there are some BOE members giving her money for that service. it is ironic they are still paying her.

ParentConcerend

November 28th, 2009
9:26 am

STRIPPER?? Doesn’t the school board check these people out before they hire them. What’s next teaching our young girls the Three R’s of lapdancing, Rotation. Revenue and the Right way to spin on a pole. This is not a christian way of life.

BulldogsFan88

November 28th, 2009
11:16 am

I think it’s unfair to take anonymous posts in a news article comments section as “truth.” I would hope people are above that. I can just as easily say she ran a Christian homeless shelter in Florida out of her own pocket and it would be just as credible!! We don’t know what her story is, it makes no sense to jump to conclusions! Another case of guilty until proven innocent, she should not have lost her job!!!!

HSteacher

November 28th, 2009
11:25 am

Parent: Teachers have to pass mandatory background checks. These only include arrests and ILLEGAL acts. Working as a stripper, which at this point is only a supposed fact posted here, is not illegal. As I posted earlier, many people take jobs to pay for college that are not part of their career plan. Unless she’s pole dancing on her time off now, what she did in the past is immaterial. You can’t check a person’s moral background unless you’re a private religious school. If she didn’t have the credentials and interview skills, she wouldn’t have been hired to teach. The woman was attacked by a former boyfriend outside of school and outside the scope of the BOE. As I posted earlier, parents have called for her return to the school. She must be a pretty good teacher if parents want her back. Her “christianity” isn’t the issue here.

Parent Concerned

November 28th, 2009
2:13 pm

HSTeacher
She must be a pretty good pole dancer. Judging from some of these posts it looks as if she is moonlighting. I guess one can never get the stripper off the pole. I have to believe the BOE had more than just this incident to justify their position if it was unanimous. We all know that any respectable organization would not act on a person such as this because of one incident. There had to be more and we are finding this out slowly. I also agree with another poster that this story seems a bit one-sided. This was before we found out about the pole dancing. It looks like there are alot of people who want her to do both of her jobs.

BulldogsFan88

November 28th, 2009
3:51 pm

It amazes me how quickly people can take an anonymous post, somehow pass it off as truth, and run with it! LOL! We don’t know anything about this lady, how would you like it if that were you losing your job because of something you did OUTSIDE of work?

What if you got a WARNING for speeding and got fired for it? You didn’t get a ticket, just as Miss Whelpley didn’t get convicted of anything. What credibility does “jim kent” have to make claims like that? You should be ashamed of yourselves to condemn someone so quickly as a stripper without even knowing anything about her.

*THAT* is not a “christian way of life”, now is it?

Vine Street Trey

November 28th, 2009
5:37 pm

I agree with Bdogfan. what gives you the right to post such things on here when you hardly no this woman. I parents want her to go back she must be a hard working person. I know that if you take on extra duty like the Drama club, the pay does NOT make up for the time you put in. Just be careful because if you cheat on your taxes or drive above the speed limit, or act below the moral norm. we may just have to post a new thread about you. Come on people get a hobby or volunteer, go help someone in need. Do not just sit there in front of your nasty keyboard posting this nonsense and eating cheetos and drinking beer.I am sure there are a few board members losing sleep over their choice on this one. It’s “The tell tale heart” thumping under the floorboard. All I ask them to do is what I have asked you to do. STEP up and do the right thing. This poor womans’ life is ruined or hanging in the balance. If they dropped the charges then you should give her her job back. If there were other things that swayed your choice I am sure you can set up some kind of plan so that it does not happen again. You should do so before she sues and gets alot of money. OHH sorry… you do not mind throwing money away. Like 300K to a lawyer and 1.2Mil to Citi Corp. Better yet I am sure she will be happier if you allow the court to decide in her favor. You won’t miss the money if you can make choices like that. So to all the haters out there I say stand up for Ms. Whelpley and give her what she deserves.

JJ

November 30th, 2009
9:19 am

This is not the christian way to make money by stripping. What kind of judgement is this women using.

Personally, I think she deserved whatever she gets.

A person with any kind of decision making would never allow this type of people into their lives.

This is what type of people we have teaching in our schools.

I personally made my way through college without having to resort to immoral activities.

This is not just idol nonsense! -

Susan Nunes

December 2nd, 2009
3:09 pm

The problem is school districts fire teachers over stupid things all the time; I was a victim of a wrongful dismissal and am currently trying to find a lawyer to sue the district over a principal’s blatant negligence. When you’re fired, your teaching career is over; you can never teach again. It’s very bad in my case because I am almost 55 years old with NO job prospects. The unions nationwide aren’t real unions and too often cut deals with administrators to shaft the teacher in order to preserve the principal’s job. As long as there is a glut of applicants for every teaching job, school districts will continue to treat teachers like dirt.

WhoSaidThat?

December 6th, 2009
9:22 am

Someone posted on another site about other people in the Douglas county system that had risen to the top based on sleeping with people in the system, on the board, principals of schools and teachers in the classroom. Nobody ever said anything about those people (If that person is reading, will you re-post it?) So much goes on that we don’t know about and NO county is free from scandal no matter how farout you go because you are dealing with humans and as humans we do make mistakes. That being said, this lady has a life outside of the classroom. Had this been an incident like clayton county where the teachers were fighting at school, this would have been different (these women are on leave with pay, but this DC woman has been fired). People please realize that yes we are held in a higher moral road than others based on our profession, I do get that. But we are still human, have faults, like an occassional drink or two and everything else. Please stop over-scrutinizing our lives. It is at the point now where we can’t do anything…..hell, AND we are being furloughed, sheesh!!!!!!!! If that ain’t enough to make husbands/wives act crazy or take a drink or two I don’t know what else will!, lol!!! (that was just a joke)

WhoSaidThat?

December 6th, 2009
9:26 am

Yay to Vine Street Trey!!!!! Well, well said. Here here!!!!!

bluebottletree

December 9th, 2009
1:35 pm

I attended the Dec 7 BOE meeting and heard one of the “audience participation” speakers comment about a recent controversial decision regarding a teacher. I’m guessing this is the decision the speaker was referring to.

So, let’s see if I understand this right: A woman was terminated based on an allegation that she lawfully defended herself against physical attack.

Wow. On so many levels, that is really scary.

OhioSoldier

April 8th, 2010
3:33 pm

Megan,

I hope that this mess is behind you by know and that your life is getting back to normal. I’m sorry to hear that he did what he did and I’m sure you were more than justified in defending yourself.

To all of you that are throwing accusations please let me say this. I knew Miss Whelpley well when she lived in Ohio and I can attest without a shadow of a doubt to the quality of her character, professionalism and dedication to the education of young people. When faced with a dangerous situation she did what any of us would do and she defended herself only as a last resort, when fleeing to a lockable room failed. I only hope that when the spotlight of the public eye is turned on you that you are treated with the same respect that you have shown her.