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Substitute cited for driving car around picketers

An Oakland, Ore., man employed as a substitute teacher by the Medford School District was handed a citation after he allegedly drove around picketing North Medford High School teachers onto the grass and sidewalk, coming within striking distance of some on the line.

Medford police reported Monte Muirhead, 47, was cited by Medford police for reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor.

(Correction: See below)

The incident happened Thursday morning at the North Medford entrance off North Keene Way Drive. Robert Black, an astronomy teacher and planetarium director at North Medford, was at the entrance when Muirhead pulled up.

"(He) pulls right up to us and doesn't wait two, three, four seconds," Black said.

Police reported Muirhead allegedly backed up and tried to enter the school grounds through the parking lot exit, then made another attempt at the entrance.

"He drove up on the curb and drove along the sidewalk before driving back off the curb and into the driveway where he continued into the parking lot," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.

Authorities said Muirhead struck an umbrella during his drive on the grass.

"I wasn't sure he wasn't going to come out of the car," Black said. "I really did think that this was where this was going to go."

Superintendent Phil Long said Monday he believed Muirhead worked Friday but he didn't know whether the substitute teacher was scheduled for this week.

"No one was injured," Long said. "It is a misdemeanor to not use the driveway. We don't usually dismiss people for things like that. I have a sense he was pretty repentant."

Police said they have had four other incidents in which motorists cut it close to picketers since negotiations between the Medford Education Association and the school district stalled Feb. 6 and the Medford teachers' strike began. The other four were treated as violations.

"This is the only one that's resulted in criminal charges, per se," Budreau said.

Court records show Muirhead does not have any additional criminal history in Oregon.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.

Correction: Police mistakenly reported an additional misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. That has since been corrected.