Janet Reddell

A group of supporters leave a Carthage ISD school board meeting Monday. The group showed up to support Janet Reddell, a sixth-grade teacher currently on leave.

A group of supporters have asked the Carthage ISD school board to bring a Baker-Koonce Intermediate School teacher who is currently on administrative leave back to the classroom.

The small group gathered Monday night before a special Carthage ISD meeting to back Janet Reddell, a sixth-grade teacher who the district said admitted to handing out a drug without a proper prescription and using her position to circumvent district protocols to get a particular diagnosis for a child.

Kathleen Kruebbe, who is serving as a temporary substitute for Reddell’s classes, said the students are suffering in Reddell’s absence.

“As a parent and supporter of Carthage ISD, I am frustrated and disappointed by the current situation these students have been subjected to for seven weeks and I ask that you put them and their need for their teacher at the forefront of your discussions and actions,” she said.

The Carthage ISD school board, in a special meeting in September, had previously voted to await the outcome of a State Board of Educator Certification investigation before taking action on Reddell’s employement. Superintendent John Wink had recommended she be fired.

At the time, Wink said his recommendation followed an internal investigation in which Reddell “admitted to giving a controlled substance to the mother of another student to give to her child without a proper prescription.”

Reddell also admitted to using her position to “obtain a particular diagnosis for the other parent’s child,” Wink said. Reddell has been on administrative leave since the allegations were discovered, and she will remain so until further notice, Wink said.

Reddell’s attorney, David Moore, has previously described the incident as an “off-campus private incident between two friends, an incident when there was no intent to commit a crime” from which local authorities concluded they would not be filing charges.

Kruebbe was the only supporter to sign up to speak during Monday’s public comment section before the school board went into executive session to consult with their attorney. The board did not take any action Monday — indeed, Monday’s agenda only listed the public comment section and the closed discussion.

Kruebbe is a Carthage ISD parent and a former teacher. In the seven weeks that Reddell has been away, she told school board members that the students in her classes miss their teacher. They’ve had eight substitute teachers in the same timeframe.

“I agreed to substitute for a few weeks but cannot commit to being there long-term because I do have another career and a business that I run, which is just going to mean further confusion for these students if we can’t get their teacher back in the classroom,” she said. “The inconsistency within the classroom has taken a toll on them. They have been devoid of routine, consistent disciplining and instruction from their actual teacher.

“While it has been a long time since I was in the classroom, I am educated as to what grade level content should be for students of this age,” she said. “It has been my observation that these 66 students are struggling with appropriate grade-level content and although I consider myself sufficiently adept to teach the current material, I do not have the 20-plus years of experience that Mrs. Reddell has. They need her experience to get them at the grade level at which they should be performing.”

Kruebbe said that Reddell’s students “ask about her daily and do not understand why she is not in the classroom with them.”

“They have written her notes and have included her abscence as the subject matter in the writing assignments,” she said. “The atmosphere in the classroom has been chaotic and inconsistent. We are doing them a disservice to continue to keep the teacher they desperately want away from them.”

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Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.