On Joelle Ogletree of Glen Rose, Texas And the Investigation by TEA OF Her Fitness to Recertified as a Teacher
On Joelle Ogletree of Glen Rose, Texas And the Investigation by TEA OF Her Fitness to Recertified as a Teacher
2 November 2007 at 2:54:06 PM
Someone whose comments I did not post here, because they also contained some uncalled for insinuations, said that the TEA didn't investigate Joelle Ogletree, rather just sort of decided yes or no about giving her back her licence to teach in the state of Texas. And yet, if you watched the Dr Phil show yesterday, you saw Ogletree fllp through 80 pages of a TEA ruling after a detailed hearing that examined the evidence and then exonerated her and said that the charges were fabricated.
And, in fact, that hearing and its results are online and available on the TEA website. (SOAH Docket # 710-06-1196.EC) I'm going to put parts of the *proposal for decision* here, as it's clear that the TEA did a thorough hearing (lasting 3 days) that examined the evidence and didn't willy nilly decide on a superficial basis to give back Ogletree's license.
Here's from page 1(highlights are mine).
The staff of the Texas Education Agency, State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) brought this disciplinary action against Joelle Ogletree seeking revocation of her Texas Educator Certificate (teaching certificate) based on allegations that she had engaged in sexual misconduct with two of her male students and that she otherwise acted inappropriately while discharging her responsibilities as a high school teacher. Also, Ms. Ogletree has applied for renewal of her teaching certificate, which Staff opposes. Ms. Ogletree denies all of the allegations.
Based on the evidence, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) concludes that Ms. Ogletree did not engage in the alleged misconduct. Consequently, no disciplinary action should be taken against her teaching certificate, and her application for license renewal should be granted in its entirety.
Page 2 indicates that the hearing was held for three days in June 2006 and included a judge and attorneys. Page 3 shows that there were approximately 15 people who came and testified, including nineteen exhibits that
included prior statements by the alleged victims to investigative authorities, depositions of alleged victims, and photos and diagrams of the high school.
Page 4 scoffs at the allegations against her.
Based on the implausible and even impossible nature of the allegations, combined with the lack of veracity of the accusers contrasted with the consistent, credible testimony of Ms. Ogletree and her witnesses, the ALJ concludes Staff wholly failed to prove its allegations.
The next pages are testimony from Chayce Wilson about what he says happened. I'm not repeating any of that here because it's pretty gross. Then Ogletree refutes what he says.
Page 16 indicates why Chayce might not have backed down on his story.
In support of her suspicion that Chayce may not have been able to back down on the allegations once they became public, Ms. Ogletree noted that he was from a very prominent family in town; one that owns numerous properties and businesses in town. She observed that at the time the allegations were made Chayce’s father was running for city council, as evidenced by a campaign advertisement that included the following statement:
I commit to the citizens of Glen Rose to be accountable for each and every decision I make as your councilman. I will research every topic before I cast my vote. I will vote based on my Christian ethics and make no apology for doing so. I ask for your vote for a positive change.
Ms. Ogletree opined that deep inside she believed Chayce had not meant to get caught up in the allegations; that due to the prominence of his family in the community, his pride, and his concern for what others might think, after she was fired from her job he was not able to come forward and say he had lied.
p 20 is a Summary of Analysis regarding Chayce's allegations.
As detailed in the General Analysis at Section III of this PFD, the ALJ concludes the events and conduct alleged by Chayce did not occur. His testimony was inconsistent and at times confusing. As for his allegation that Ms. Ogletree changed from her color guard uniform during the spring of 2002, it could not have happened. Ultimately, Chayce’s suspect credibility, combined with the more credible and consistent testimony of the Ogletrees and other witnesses whose testimony is discussed later in this PFD, combine to lead to the conclusion that his allegations were fabricated.
p 20 begins Matthew B's allegations.And then Ogletree's refutation.
Ms. Ogletree confirmed Matt’s testimony that he had been to her house only twice, but she stringently denied she was alone with Matt at the house during either visit. Her testimony about Matt’s visit to her house in the summer of 2002 was consistent with that of her husband, Doug, and her cousin, Danny Daniels. She testified that Matt’s first visit to her house was for the purpose of helping her husband move a piano. She described how her husband had gone to Oklahoma to get a piano from his brother. He had told her to call a couple of students for help in moving the piano upon his return. They agreed that afterward the Ogletrees would treat everyone to dinner. Ms. Ogletree said she called several people but got two answering machines and a busy signal. She made contact with Matt, who said he would be able to come over. She then called her cousin, Danny, who was next door at their grandfather’s house.
p 23 includes Ogletree's husband's testimony refuting what Matt B said. p 24 has Danny Daniel's testimony. Then there's some more sexual testimony from Matt B. p 28 has testimony about other events being held at the Ogletree's house. p 31 is about the coded notes.
p 36 has the Summary of Analysis Regarding Matt's Allegations.
Like Chayce’s allegations, Matt’s were at the very least implausible, while at least one major one–that he had been alone at the Ogletree house with Ms. Ogletree–was simply disproved, partially by the testimony of Matt himself. As discussed in more detail in the General Analysis at Section III of the PFD, the ALJ concludes Staff wholly failed to prove any of the allegations involving Matt.
p 37 "I've Never Been" Game, including, on p 39, testimony of former students.
The testimony of the ex-students Ms. Ogletree called as witnesses echoed her testimony that she had not acted inappropriately during the "I’ve Never" game. Beau Y. remembered one occasion when the "I’ve Never" game was played in Ms. Ogletree’s class, and he recalled also having played the game in other classes. He testified that he never heard Ms. Ogletree make any remarks of a sexual or otherwise inappropriate nature in connection with the game. He did recall that during class Chayce would make comments that were inappropriate or offensive, and that Matt would do the same. Beau stated that Ms. Ogletree would react with some type of disciplinary action toward them, such as sending them to the hall or to the office.
The Summary, on p 39 says
Staff failed to demonstrate that Ms. Ogletree either acted inappropriately while participating in the "I’ve Never" game or encouraged or allowed inappropriate behavior to occur during the game. In fact, the evidence reveals very different realities: that Chayce was the one making sexually oriented remarks and that Matt was not even present when the game was played in Ms. Ogletree’s class. The allegations relating to the game are without merit.
p 40 includes the retracted deposition of Sam F.
When asked why he would have made such allegations against Ms. Ogletree if they were not true, Sam stated,
Tired of, let me think of the best way to put it, tired of being pressured into it. Tired of being called up to the office every, constantly every day, twice a day, three times a day to ask, because in Glen Rose, anytime an administrator hears a rumor, even though you’ve denied it for however many months that is from October ‘til May, even though you’ve denied it that long, they still think, they’re holding out hope that you might . . . .
Sam estimated that he had been called to the office between 10 and 20 times, and each time he confirmed he had already given his statement and that what he had said in the statement was true. He also confirmed that ultimately, on May 12, 2003, he decided to give the conflicting statement in response to feeling pressured to make the allegations; because, in his words, it was what the adults wanted to hear and so that they would leave him alone.
When asked whether he regretted having made the false statement in May, Sam answered, "One hundred percent, one hundred and ten percent." He stated that the summer of 2003 he told his girlfriend that the allegations were not true. She was the first person he told. Later that summer he told his mother and Chayce the allegations were false, that his first statement that nothing hadhappened between him and Ms. Ogletree was the truth.
When questioned by Staff during his deposition about his motivations in making up the allegations, Sam replied, "I wish I could tell you. What was I thinking, thinking that this was one step closer to getting it over with, but in reality just one step deeper, you know, digging, . . . there’s no need for cliches, but I honestly can’t tell you what I was thinking." Sam testified that he liked Ms. Ogletree both as a teacher and as an individual. He added that he had not intended to hurt heralthough that is what he obviously had done.
page 50 goes into whether she dressed inappropriately in front of students.
When asked whether Ms. Ogletree ever dressed in a manner he considered inappropriate, such as wearing short skirts or tight clothes, Beau responded that not only did she not dress inappropriately, she was ridiculed for "dressing like an old woman, long dresses covering her arms and stuff." He recounted one occasion when Matt was making fun of the way Ms. Ogletree was dressed, comparing her to Mary Poppins. Beau likewise denied ever hearing her make sexual comments or otherwise use profanity or vulgar words
Then, more pages of testimony in which Matt, Chayce and Sam are characterized.
P 64-about the Ogletree relationship.
Ms. Ogletree challenged Staff in its effort to question her former colleagues about the timing of her courtship and marriage to her husband. In response, Staff explained that it was not suggesting anything improper had happened between the Ogletrees prior to their courtship. Instead, the purpose of the probe was to show bias in the Ogletrees’ witnesses. Staff argued that just as the witnesses never considered the possibility of an inappropriate relationship between the Ogletrees prior to Ms. Ogletree’s graduation from high school, they likewise never at least considered the possibility that as a teacher she could have engaged in inappropriate conduct with students.
The ALJ was not persuaded that the age difference of the Ogletrees or the timing of their courtship and marriage bore any significant relevance to the disputed issues in this case. That Ms. Ogletree’s ex-colleagues had never questioned the nature of the relationship was not significant in the ALJ’s judgment of their credibility.
page 68 begins the summary of conclusions.
Not only did the evidence preponderate in Ms. Ogletree’s favor, it demonstrated that she neither committed any of the sexual acts nor engaged in the other inappropriate behavior alleged by Chayce and Matt, as alleged in Staff’s Second Amended Complaint. As the issues were thoroughly explored via witness testimony, investigative reports, and other evidence, a common theme began to emerge that was reinforced as the hearing progressed: the boys’ allegations ranged from implausible to impossible.
Through her credible, persuasive testimony and that of her witnesses, Ms. Ogletree showed the allegations to be false. Where the occurrence of an alleged event was provable by corroborating evidence, Ms. Ogletree prevailed. Recurring inconsistencies in Matt’s and Chayce’s claims and recollections together with the generally farfetched nature of many allegations served only to strengthen the conclusion that they lied. That some of the more serious allegations could not have occurred undermined the plausibility of all the allegations.
Based on these conclusions, the ALJ recommends that no disciplinary action be taken against Ms. Ogletree’s educator certificate and that her renewal application be granted in its entirety.
p 75 also reiterates that the Administrative Law Judge concludes that Ms Ogletree did not engage in the allaged misconduct.
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