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Medford school board dismisses teacher

The Medford School Board dismissed a Griffin Creek Elementary School teacher this week in a unanimous vote.

Sixth-grade teacher Lisa Herrald, 59, was dismissed for gross neglect of duty and unfitness for duty Monday. Further details on the cause of the firing were not released.

Herrald, of Ashland, did not request a public hearing regarding her charges, according to board records. Instead, the School Board discussed Herrald's case for more than an hour during a closed executive session Monday evening.

According to Oregon law, charges of gross neglect of duty can stem from a large spectrum of offenses, ranging from unauthorized use of school supplies to violent behavior or sexual harassment.

Charges of unfitness for duty are more specific, and almost entirely involve instances in which the teacher is accused of breaking a law, even in the absence of a conviction. The incident leading to the unfitness for duty charge can occur off campus or outside of school hours.

Superintendant Phil Long recommended that the School Board dismiss Herrald, according to board records. Calls to Long and Herrald for comment on the dismissal were not returned Wednesday.

At the regular board meeting following the executive session, Herrald was dismissed, by a unanimous 6-0 vote, effective immediately. One board member, Marlene Yesquen, was not at the meeting.

State law bars school board members from talking about personnel actions.

This was Herrald's first year at Griffin Creek Elementary. Last year, she taught a fourth-fifth blend class at Howard Elementary.

As of Wednesday, no complaint against Herrald had been filed with the Oregon Teachers Standards and Practices Commission, the state's educator licensing agency.

A representative from TSCP said that the district is required to file a report after it finishes its own investigation.

"It is required that the chief administrator file a report within 30 days of completing their investigation," said Melody Hansen, TSCP director of professional practices.

Hansen said at that time, the TSCP would conduct its own investigation, and a 17-member commission would review the case.

"They decide whether or not to charge the educator," Herrald said.

In the event the commission agreed that Herrald was guilty of gross neglect of duty or unfitness for duty, they could revoke her teaching license.

Licenses can be revoked for a year, or indefinitely, Hansen said, depending on the severity of the charges.

A search of court records showed only minor traffic offenses for Herrald.

As of Wednesday, Herrald was still actively licensed by the Oregon TSCP.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.