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Teacher arrested in drug raid to relinquish certificate - abc27 WHTM

Teacher arrested in drug raid to relinquish certificate

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By Joseph Cress
The Sentinel

South Middleton School District finalized an agreement Monday that would require former Boiling Springs High School teacher Shane Stought to permanently relinquish his certificate to teach in Pennsylvania.

Under the agreement, the district will pay Stought $50,000 to settle his recent case for reinstatement. The agreement also prohibits Stought from being on district property or at any district-sponsored event for five years.

The former social studies teacher and basketball coach was suspended without pay in 2010 after he was indicted on federal drug distribution charges. The charges have since been dismissed.

The district will pay Stought after receiving confirmation from the Department of Education that he has voluntarily surrendered his teaching certificate, said School Board President Thomas Merlie, who signed the paperwork executing the agreement.

"We believe the $50,000 was an efficient use of taxpayer money," Merlie added. "We felt if we went through the entire process, we would not have received the efficiency and would not have gotten the certainty of this agreement. We could not guarantee the outcome, but it would have cost the taxpayers much more money."

The board last month accepted Stought's resignation and approved a tentative settlement agreement, which needed final signatures from both parties.

‘A great agony'

"I think it's sad that the district lost by all acts a very good teacher," Stought's attorney Karl Rominger said Monday. "It was a tough choice, but we felt we couldn't get a fair result. So choosing the lesser of two evils was to negotiate an agreement.

"There's just so much hysteria in the public with school teachers and zero tolerance," Rominger said. "The criminal justice system felt Shane was worth putting in rehabilitation. Other teachers have gone through the ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) program. I think the problem was with how it was charged, originally colored."

The Associated Press reported in April 2012 that the federal drug charges against Stought were dismissed after he spent six months in the ARD program. Under the diversionary program, the record of a first-time offender is expunged if he follows the program requirements.

The loss of his certificate is a heartbreak for Stought, Rominger said. "That was with great agony that he did this. On the other hand, it's not as big of a deal. With Google, any school district would likely hold the press coverage against him. We weighed that out."

Rominger said he had no doubt his client will find a new career path. "He's very intelligent and very capable," Rominger said.

Show of support

In June, Stought had the opportunity to make his case for reinstatement before school board members. A public hearing to determine his future with the district was continued after the school district and Stought reached the tentative agreement. Rominger was impressed by the show of support.

"I was spontaneously stopped by people telling me they were a student of his and grateful for what I was doing," Rominger said. "There were a lot of people in this community supporting him. It's kind of refreshing to represent somebody who has had such a strong public support in the general population."

In an interview Monday, Merlie agreed with requiring Stought to surrender his certificate, even though the charges have been dismissed. "It is any employer's prerogative to choose the people that it employs," Merlie said. "At South Middleton, we believe our employees should be held to a higher moral standard. And when it is not, we have to think of our students first. We have signed and executed agreement and both parties can now move on."

For more on this story, check out The Sentinel's coverage here.

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