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A Union County teacher says his school principal is telling him to ignore a popular district policy, or else face the consequences. The school district opened an investigation after we took the allegations directly to officials.
WBTV uncovered an audio tape that captured some of the teacher's allegations. That teacher, Ricky Ferguson, told WBTV he decided to come forward because he couldn't take any more pressure.
"I love teaching. I love my job. I love what I do," he said.
Ferguson says he's a no-nonsense teacher with a mission to change lives and hold students accountable.
"I'm very lenient. If there's a problem, they (students) need to come to me and talk to me about it. If there's a problem I'll help as much as I can," Ferguson said.
Ferguson says his past year at Forest Hills High School in Marshville has been a roller coaster, and says the school's principal, Dr. Kevin Plue has repeatedly told him to ignore school district policy.
"All of this happened the first six weeks, and it's been ongoing," he said.
Plue called Ferguson to his office a few weeks ago, and Ferguson recorded everything from his jacket pocket.
"I do want to start off by letting you know that I did let HR (human resources) know that we were going to be meeting with you about these items today and they all have to do with grading and grading procedures," Plue said on the tape.
WBTV checked and the Union County school board policy is straightforward. If you miss a day of school and it is excused, you have two days to make it up. According to the policy, "excused" means having a note on file.
"It has become standard practice for teachers to allow students to make up work. Not just at Forest Hills but at many schools whether or not there is a note on file. I am saying to you that is what my expectation is that students are allowed to make up work," Plue said.
"Whether it's unexcused or excused?," Ferguson asked Plue.
"Whether a note is on file or not," Plue said.
In the meeting, Ferguson even asked Plue to print out the policy so both could review it in person.
"Can I make a request? Could you give that to me in a hard copy?," Ferguson asked.
"No. I'm just giving you a directive to allow kids to make up work," Plue said.
At one point on the tape, Dr. Plue even admits that there are problems with the policy.
"There is probably an antiquated board policy out there," Plue said.
"It's two days," Ferguson said.
"But at the same time if our true mission statement is to try and help students reach their highest potential then, you know, we sometimes go above and beyond as individual teachers," Plue said.
Not long after their meeting, Ferguson received a letter in the mail, telling him that his contract won't be renewed for next year. The letter does not get into specifics.
Ferguson says he's given students plenty of chances to succeed within the district's guidelines, but he says policy is policy, and he won't ignore what is written in black and white.
"I kept repeating that UCPS board policy was two days, two days, two days and he (Plue) said he would follow up with a memorandum so I'd have a hard copy, but it never came," Ferguson said.
Hours before our investigation aired on May 21, the Union County School District suspended Ferguson with pay as a result of the open investigation. He's been told to stay away from school property.
WBTV reached out to Dr. Kevin Plue several times to hear his side of the story, but a school district official said Plue could not comment. The district also would not comment, citing an open investigation.
WBTV asked the district if Dr. Plue would also be suspended with pay as part of the investigation, and the district wouldn't comment, citing a personnel matter.