A grievance hearing was held Monday night during a special called GRISD school board meeting, allowing former Glen Rose French teacher Joelle Ogletree a chance to publicly address the reason she was denied a chance to volunteer at the elementary campus where her daughter is a student.
Ogletree said her volunteer application had been unjustly denied because of the suit she brought against the district after three of her former students accused her of misconduct. She also said the board cited the nature of the claims against her as another reason her application was denied.
Ogletree was accused in October 2002 of making sexual advances towards three of her male students. She was indicted in March and May 2003. Her case went to trial in August 2004, after one of the alleged victims recanted his testimony. All charges were dropped against Ogletree in November 2004 and she still retains her teaching certificate and has cleared a state mandated criminal background check.
“Every single allegation against me was scrutinized before I was allowed to keep this license,” Ogletree told the board. “I have done nothing wrong and there is no reason I cannot be allowed in the classroom.”
She claims the district is retaliating against her because she brought a lawsuit against the school district.
She said the GRISD employee handbook clearly states that the district is not allowed to discriminate against any employee or potential employee for exercising their rights to bring a lawsuit. She understood the statute did not expressly include volunteers, but felt the spirit of the law should be extended.
“I ask that you reverse the decision and allow me to volunteer,” Ogletree said.
Superintendent Wayne Rotan spoke on behalf of the school board. He said Ogletree’s volunteer application was denied because of other alleged inappropriate actions by the former teacher, such as a sleepover involving middle school students, handwritten notes to male students and classroom participation in the “I never” game with sexual overtones.
Rotan said the district has been put on notice for the potential of inappropriate actions by Ogletree.
“She has in no way been banned from the elementary campus,” Rotan said.
He pointed out that Ogletree is an active PTO member and signed onto campus 53 times last year, which is approximately one out of every three days of instruction.
During her rebuttal, Ogletree said the notice of investigation had been removed from her license and that she hoped the board members could be unbiased and vote with a clear conscious to allow her to volunteer.
“I was almost robbed of the privilege of being a mother to that girl,” Ogletree said about her daughter who was 16 months old at the time of the allegations. “I will soak up every opportunity I have. How dare anyone rob me of that chance. It is criminal for you to stop me.”
Rotan reiterated that a volunteer is someone who renders services on behalf of the school district without compensation. Ogletree was not denied participation on campus or from being involved in her child’s education, but simply from being a representative of the school.
Ogletree replied that even registered sex offenders who have no children enrolled in school can sign in and roam the campus freely, a comment that took school board president Marilyn Phillips by surprise.
The board failed to make a motion at the end of the hearing, meaning that Ogletree’s application remains denied.
The board could not discuss or take action at the regularly scheduled meeting that followed at 7 p.m. because the item was not listed on the agenda. Ogletree’s next chance will be at the Dec. 15 regular meeting. However, a request to place the item on the agenda must be received prior to the meeting so that a complete agenda will be available as per Texas Open Meeting laws.