NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A New Hanover High School English teacher has been on paid leave from her job since May, after being arrested and now indicted for possession of narcotics. She is one of a dozen county school employees suspended with pay in the last year.
In total, those paid suspensions have cost the school system about $50,000. English teacher Catherine Entrocaso has collected the most - about $12,000 since her arrest last spring.
Other suspended employees range from teachers assistants, to cooks to custodians. Half of them ended up returning to work after their paid suspensions, but six others retired, resigned, or were fired.
Although reasons for suspensions are confidential, arrest records like the one for Hoggard High School Coach Mike Supak shed some light on what may have prompted the disciplinary action.
Supak was arrested for indecent liberties with a student and assault on a female following allegations he kissed a 17 year old student last year. He was suspended with pay, then had his pay revoked before ultimately resigning from his teaching job.
School officials say it is their policy to suspend employees with pay if there is an allegation but no proof of improper behavior. That allows the schools to keep students protected, while at the same time protecting the livelihood of an employee who may have been falsely accused until the investigation unfolds.
While a school employee may face some disciplinary action for minor criminal offenses, that wouldn't typically result in termination. Officials say termination would usually require convincing evidence that the employee committed a felony or misdemeanor that threatened the safety of students.
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