Public disclosure requests show a longtime Loon Lake Elementary School teacher, criticized by disgruntled school district patrons during several levy elections, has been reprimanded for allegedly pulling a student’s hair and squeezing his face.
The April 26 reprimand was the latest of three warnings and rebukes handed down to third-grade teacher Carol Baer since last June. In addition to the alleged physical abuse, last month’s reprimand also included what Superintendent Steve Waunch said was improper medical advice Baer gave a parent.
Baer, who has worked for the southern Stevens County school district since 1985, declined to comment.
“These kinds of concerns, including complaints that you intimidate and belittle students, have been ongoing,” Waunch said in the letter he placed in Baer’s file last month. “We have received numerous complaints regarding your behavior from parents and the school board, and I am very concerned.”
Waunch said he concluded after an investigation that Baer had indeed pulled the hair and squeezed the face of one of her students. Further, Waunch said his investigation determined that Baer told a mother, “without any medical or psychological evidence,” that her son needed medication for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
“Such conduct is unacceptable,” Waunch wrote. “You are not a physician or a licensed psychologist.”
As in a letter of reprimand he gave Baer on June 13 last year, Waunch warned that further violations could result in dismissal.
In last year’s letter, the superintendent said Baer two months earlier had defied a direct order from the school board not to bring her German shepherd to school without Waunch’s prior approval.
“I was shocked to see you with the dog at school and further amazed that he was not on a leash,” Waunch wrote, citing safety and liability concerns.
Also on June 13, Waunch placed a separate memo in Baer’s personnel file to document a written warning not to discuss “outside issues” with her students. In that case, school board member Matt Jorgensen and his wife, Shannon, complained that Baer told their son that his grandmother, Charlene Jorgensen, was “trying to close down the school.” Charlene Jorgensen had publicly criticized district policies and was believed to have played a role in two levy defeats last year.
Waunch confirmed in an interview that a school board member other than Jorgensen – one who supported the levies – refused to allow his daughter to be in Baer’s class.
District residents last month approved a pair of two-year levies, totaling $197,000, to restore some services eliminated by last year’s levy failures and to prevent further cuts.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.