(34 Total References)
Welcome to News Virginian: Serving the Waynesboro, VA region | Tracy Straight's find-finding committee recommendation
Tracy Weaver Straight
...Re: Tracy Weaver Straight, Decision of Fact-finding Panel
...1. Mrs. Tracy Straight has been a teacher in the Waynesboro school system for nine years, starting in 1996 as an elementary music teacher, and serving the last three years as a secondary music teacher and Choir Director at Waynesboro High School.2. Since Mrs. Straight has been a teacher in the Waynesboro Public Schools ("WPS'), she has performed acceptably.She
had performance problems in the 2003-04 school year, but improved in areas that needed improvement in the 2004-05 school year (see Teacher's exhibit 3, Superintendent's Exhibits 3-8 and 23-29; as well as Doug Charley's testimony).
3. In addition to her
required teaching duties, she
has actively participated in and promoted the fine arts in the Waynesboro community (see Teacher's Exhibit 1 and 2).
4. In September 2004, Mrs. Straight made application to the School Board for approval of a Concert Choir field trip to New York City for April 21-24, 2005.Mrs. Straight
had previously served, in her
official capacity as a WPS employee, as a sponsor and supervisor of overnight field trips taken by various high school choral groups, including previous trips to New York City (see Superintendent's Exhibits 9 and 10).In her
application, Mrs. Straight
said, "[I]t is without reservation that I take on the responsibility of sponsoring the Concert Choir trip to New York City on April 21-24, 2005 and I hope for your approval" (see Superintendent's Exhibit 9).5. Mrs. Straight and Mr. Peeling were the two WPS employees who accompanied the concert choir on the New York field trip in their official capacity who were assigned the responsibility and supervisory and custodial authority over the students on the trip.
acknowledged in her
testimony that as an official sponsor of the trip she
was assigned a much more significant level of responsibility and authority for the trip and the students than was the case with any other adult chaperone on the trip.Mrs. Straight's responsibilities on the trip were continuing throughout the trip.
6. Many adult chaperones accompanied the concert choir on the New York field trip, including Waynesboro Public Schools'
employees whose children were choir members.These employees took personal leave to attend the trip.These chaperones were under the authority of Mrs. Straight
and Mr. Peeling.
7. Prior to the trip, Mrs. Straight
drafted a list of rules students were to abide by while on the field trip, including a prohibition from using alcohol.There had been an incident on a previous trip, under past choral leadership, in which students had been disciplined for using alcohol.
8. While on the New York field trip on the night of Friday April 22, 2005, after seeing a play, Mrs. Straight
had dinner with Mr. Peeling and three other chaperones and each had one alcoholic drink with dinner.
had previously changed the curfew from 11:30 p.m. until 1 or 1:30 a.m., as the play was over later than expected and most chaperones and students had not had dinner.Mrs. Straight
and Mrs. Coleman did not complete room checks until after 2 a.m. After completing room checks with Pam Coleman, Mrs. Straight
had one alcoholic drink with the other chaperones in her room.Mrs. Straight
and Mrs. Coleman did not complete room checks until after 2 a.m. After completing room checks with Pam Coleman, Mrs. Straight
had one alcoholic drink with the other chaperones in her room.
9. The next day, Mrs. Straight
did not accompany any students or participate in any of the cultural or sightseeing activities she
remained in her
hotel room and slept and went out for lunch and some shopping.Her
first significant interaction with students on April 23 did not occur until that evening when the group attended a Broadway show.Mrs. Straight
told the panel that she
was on call.
10. There is no evidence that Mrs. Straight
drank to excess on the trip.
13. During the room checks, Mrs. Straight
and Mrs. Coleman checked on four senior male students (students A,B,C, and D are identified in Superintendent's Exhibit 15).
A series of photographs was taken of one or more of the students with Mrs. Straight
and Mrs. Coleman.
15. Tracy Straight
had dismissed Student C from Concert Choir during the 2003-04 school year because of continued disruptive behavior and an obscene phone call Student C made to her
.Student C returned to the Concert Choir for the 2004-05 school year.Mrs. Straight
testified that this was at Mr. Peeling's direction.
Two of the students said they could smell the odor of alcohol on Mrs. Straight
21. Dr. Crowder and Mrs. Wright thereafter interviewed Mrs. Straight
...22. Mrs. Coleman, the chaperone who assisted Mrs. Straight with room checks, met with Dr. Lemons and Dr. Crowder as part of the investigation on April 26.
25. Before the April 2005 trip to New York, Mrs. Straight
previously traveled with WHS choral groups to New York City in 2003 and 2004, and to Florida in 2004 and in February 2005.Ms. Straight consumed alcohol on each of those previous trips with exception of the February 2005 trip to Florida (Teacher's Exhibit 4).
26. Mrs. Straight
testified that other adult chaperones also consumed alcohol with her
on the two 2003 and 2004 New York trips and on the 2004 Florida trip.She
further testified that because alcohol was consumed on these trips by other adults,
27. Mrs. Straight
further testified that she
only became aware of School Board policy GBEA after she
was notified of Dr. Lemons' recommendation for dismissal.
29. Mrs. Straight's
position expressed in her
testimony was that her
consumption of alcohol was acceptable as long as it was not unlawful or in the presence of students.
30. Mrs. Straight
admitted, however, that she
did not rely on policy GBEA to influence her
decision to consume alcohol on the April 2005 New York City field trip.She
testified that she
could drink alcohol because it happened in the past, she
never saw anything in writing that said she
could not drink alcohol, and no administrator told her she
could not drink alcohol on a field trip.These are all of the reasons Mrs. Straight
offered as justification for her
31. In February 2005, Mrs. Straight
accompanied a WHS freshman choral group to Orlando Florida to perform at Disney World.Mrs. Straight
organized the trip and accompanied the group to Florida in her
official capacity as a representative and employee of the WPS
assumed supervisory and custodial authority for the students during that trip.
Later during the trip, Sue Wright specifically told Mrs. Straight
that no adult should be drinking alcohol on the trip.
Unlike the other trips described in item 28, Mrs. Straight
did not consume alcohol on the February 2005 Florida trip.Ms. Wright was Mrs. Straight's
supervisor and her remarks to Mrs. Straight
served to provide Mrs. Straight
with a clear expression of administrative disapproval of any adult consuming alcohol on field trips.
requested that Dr. Lemons provide her with the reasons for his recommendation.
37. Mrs. Straight
recommended the panel reject the Superintendent's recommendation for dismissal because dismissal is too severe a punishment for her
conduct.Mrs. Straight feels this is true because of the lack of a school policy prohibiting her
conduct and the practice on past choral department field trips of sponsoring employees and chaperones having responsibly consumed alcohol.She
has asked the fact-finding panel to recommend to the School Board that her
employment should be continued.She has also asked the panel to recommend a reprimand be placed in Mrs. Straight's file concerning the necessity of Mrs. Straight avoiding even the appearance of impropriety when acting as a sponsoring employee or a chaperone on a field trip.
Two panel members, Laura McCullough and James Bowling IV, support the Superintendent's recommendation to the School Board that Mrs. Straight
Welcome to News Virginian: Serving the Waynesboro, VA region | WHS choir director's fate weeks away
It will be at least two weeks before the final fate of Waynesboro High School Choir Director Tracy Straight is determined, the chairwoman of the Waynesboro School Board said Monday.Straight has been recommended for dismissal by Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Lowell Lemons for drinking alcohol and for being photographed with shirtless male Concert Choir members during an April New York City field trip.
...Waynesboro School Board Chairwoman Lorie Smith anticipates a closed meeting on Straight's case the week of July 25.
School Board members first must receive a transcript from a July 5 hearing in which Straight
case before a three-member panel.
Watkins wants Waynesboro School Board
members to review the seven hours of testimony from the hearing and the exhibits before looking at the panel report on Straight
Welcome to News Virginian: Serving the Waynesboro, VA region | Peeling's punishment
The exception is the Concert Choir's director, Tracy Straight, who also was photographed in suggestive poses with shirtless boys on a hotel bed.She is appealing her firing.
Welcome to News Virginian: Serving the Waynesboro, VA region | Board will act on resignation or firing recommendation of WHS choir director
Tracy Weaver Straight stunned even some supporters Wednesday by resigning on the eve of tonight's Waynesboro School Board decision on her future as a teacher here.
The director of the Waynesboro High School Concert Choir
had exercised her
rights as a tenured teacher to press for due process and appeal Superintendent Lowell Lemons' recommendation to fire her
got an attorney and for four months fought misconduct charges stemming from a New York field trip.She
said in a press release Wednesday that she
no longer had the energy to pursue the matter.
"I have decided to voluntarily resign my future employment with Waynesboro
said in a written statement issued to the news media early Wednesday afternoon."This matter has simply taken too much of my energy and the community's time to continue to fight it.
"I also wanted to clear my name of much inaccurate innuendo which appeared in the press and the community after the field trip," she
said."I have done that."
also said she
drank a nominal amount of alcohol in the presence of other chaperones only.But during a bed check to ensure students made curfew, Straight
agreed to pose for photographs with four shirtless choir members.Straight
testified during an open hearing that not all of the students were choir boys, however.She
blamed one, who has declined interview requests from The News Virginian
, for setting her
up by agitating for the photos and then posting them on the Internet.
The boy in question had been kicked off the Concert Choir the year before after making an obscene call to Straight's cell phone, she
said during an open hearing earlier this month.
Unlike Peeling, Straight
chose to pursue due process available to tenured teachers - legally defined as those who have taught "successfully" for three straight years.Straight
asked for a three-member panel to review the case and then make a recommendation to the School Board.
The real injustice here is that the students of Waynesboro High School
are now being deprived of the skills of an excellent teacher and award-winning Choral Director," Green said in Straight's
...Crowder, the assistant superintendent, said only Peeling and Straight were designated to represent the school district on the trip, however.
Calls to Straight
were not returned.Straight's
prepared statement said she
is looking for a new job and hopes to remain a teacher.
"I want to stay in teaching and work with choral students because I think I have a lot to offer them and I love working with the kids," Straight
Former state Sen.
Criminal Defense Lawyer News Jul 2005: criminal defense attorneys.
And suddenly, Waynesboro High School choral director Tracy Straight is in danger of losing her job. (Wed, 06 Jul 2005 10:02:52 GMT)
Suspect on tape: Victim 'had to die' (The Journal News)WHITE PLAINS Concetta Russo-Carriero "had to die" because she
was white, the man accused of killing her
told White Plains detectives in a 45-minute videotaped statement during which he
also claims to have killed others and says he
is at war with the white race. (Wed, 06 Jul 2005 10:03:22 GMT)
Taft hires criminal lawyer (Cincinnati Enquirer)Gov. Bob Taft has hired one of Columbus' leading criminal lawyers, his
spokesman said Tuesday - the same day Taft disclosed that he
had failed to report golf outings in which he
had participated. (Wed, 06 Jul 2005 10:16:07 GMT)
Teen charged in Minn. school slayings wanted to retaliate for teasing, prosecutor says (Waterloo Cedar-Falls Courier)ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) --- A teen charged with killing two high school students was angry about being teased about his
acne and told investigators he
had targeted one victim "to hurt him like he
hurt me," a prosecutor argued Tuesday. (Wed, 06 Jul 2005 10:25:24 GMT)