Chambers County School Board suspends band director without pay - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Chambers County School Board suspends band director without pay

(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM) (Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Parker Branton/WTVM) (Source: Parker Branton/WTVM)
(Source: Parker Branton/WTVM) (Source: Parker Branton/WTVM)

LAFAYETTE, AL (WTVM) - Chambers County's Board of Education decided that a local high school's band director will remain suspended without pay for the rest of the school year.

This after Shannon Chandler publicly apologized for his role in a banquet awards ceremony where one student was given a "gag" award considered insensitive.

It took some time behind closed doors at the board of education building, but following superintendent Kelli Hodge's recommendation, Chandler will not be returning to Valley High School, at least for the rest of this school year.

Hodge needed her colleagues' approval to back up her decision to reprimand Chandler.

“Last [Thursday], I had placed him on leave without pay. However," she said, "I do not have the authority to place on leave without pay without the approval of my board.”

News Leader 9 first reported senior students of the Valley High School marching band had created a "gag award" for their annual end-of-year banquet. The particular award, going to a student with the last name Hernandez, was described as a pail and shovel, a green card and chips and salsa.

Hodge says she's received calls from all over the country demanding the board remove Chandler from his position.

“Those people who have contacted us are completely opposed to him working with children ever again," Hodge said. "We've actually been contacted by as far away as Hawaii, with people's opinion about this situation.”

Hodge also acknowledged the support of some community members who've known Chandler throughout his 30 years working as an educator.

“He has touched a lot of lives, and I know he's been a very important teacher for a lot of lives," Hodge said, "but, he is the person who is in charge, so even if this was something that students came up with, student ideas, he is still the person who is in charge of that classroom, so to speak.”

News Leader 9 asked if anyone in the public knew Chandler or was associated with Valley High, and would like to comment. Some community members, who we later found out were members of the band and their parents, chose to not talk on the record, citing conflict of interest.

Hodge also said the students who made the gag award will not be reprimanded, adding she did sit down with the group of students to discuss their actions. Members of the band, according to Hodge, did call the student's mother to apologize for their actions.

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