Last night I had the great pleasure of attending a party in which Joelle Ogletree ceremoniously destroyed papers relating to the case in which she was wrongfully accused of sex with students. As most readers know, she is a certified teacher in the state of Texas, has a great job as a full time teacher, and even GRISD's superintendent does not believe she really did what she was accused of. Anyway, I related to getting rid of artifacts of an unhappy, strife-filled past that upended her life for so long.
Quick recap for anyone that has not followed this. I did not know Joelle Ogletree at all when I first read about her case, which was, now, years ago. I went and READ the court transcripts as well as the ALJ hearings and was utterly appalled. I was equally appalled when GRISD didn't do the right thing and allow Ogletree to be a recognized volunteer at the school. My personal opinion is that a technology rich school like GRISD ought to spend money on classroom cameras as a protection for both students and teachers, and this would have immediately settled these 0 accusations before they went on so long. Even now, I have to wonder if there are people like this man who called me up in 2009 to whisper about Ogletree out there who might still believe the gossip rather than the facts- this was the response from the Sheriff's department re: sex photos.
Anyway, in the original case. When it went to criminal trial, one of the children recanted his accusations right before the trial started.Only one actually testified, and the trial was cut short before the third was brought on. The DA decided not to even try to bring it up again. Ogletree had an ALJ hearing at the TEA regarding her teaching certificate. One of the boys who was deposed left the country so that that was not possible to examine his deposition statements in person. Most importantly, however, the ALJ hearing judge said that the boys had not told the truth and ordered Ogletree cleared of all wrong doing and her teaching license renewed. The only entity that continued to punish Ogletree was Glen Rose ISD.
I was a criminal justice major in college. The idea when you are the police is that someone is guilty until proven innocent. That's as it should be since investigative entities are in charge of trying to hunt down who perpetrated a crime. But for anyone else, including the court system and citizens in a community, our principles are supposed to be that someone is innocent until proven guilty. The school took the tact that, despite supposedly teaching that principle to students, even if someone is proven innocent, innuendo and belief that *something happened* trumped reality. I completely understand that an entity who parents trust to protect children would want to be cautious, but even they didn't believe that she was guilty, since they offered her at one point a letter to help her get a job in another district, just not Glen Rose. (If you really believed that someone is a predator, would you want to foist them on another community??? please).
There may be some that have paid more attention to the whispers than the evidence. For those people, I hope they will take the time to actually look at the evidence and consider what they would do if such a horrendous event happened to them?