A judge has upheld the three-week suspension without pay of a Scottsbluff, Neb., middle school teacher accused of repeatedly sending sexually explicit materials on the school district’s eMail system.
Gerald Schmeckpeper was suspended in December for insubordination when he disobeyed repeated requests to stop his eMail practice. The school board upheld the suspension in January.
Schmeckpeper argued that he was told only to use caution when opening eMail. But District Judge Robert Hippe on July 13 said there was sufficient evidence to suspend Schmeckpepper.
Schmeckpeper was receiving and sending eMail with crude jokes and cartoons and had several sexually explicit pictures stored electronically, Hippe said.
Schmeckpeper’s attorney, Sterling Huff, argued that the board’s policy concerning acceptable use of eMail and the internet was ambiguous and lacked adequate standards to prevent arbitrary enforcement.
Huff said other staff had sent similar eMails, and Schmeckpeper was singled out. But the district’s attorney, Dick Douglas, said at least four other faculty involved in sending similar eMails stopped when asked and Schmeckpepper didn’t.
The investigation began after a female staff member said she was embarrassed and felt violated when she received one of Schmeckpeper’s eMails, Douglas said.