Former Oklahoma Principal In Trouble In Texas

Saturday, September 22nd 2007, 3:04 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A school board in Texas has begun the process of firing a former Oklahoma City high school principal for allegedly not disclosing he was court-martialed and served time in a military prison.

Michael J. Maples, a school principal in Victoria, Texas, also received a subpoena from a Victoria County (Texas) grand jury Thursday, but invoked his constitutional right not to give testimony that could be considered self-incriminating, said attorney Michael Gassaway, who is representing Maples in an Oklahoma City civil lawsuit.

Maples, 43, was principal at Southeast High School in Oklahoma City before he took the job in Victoria last summer. He has been suspended with pay since Sept. 7 when school officials in Victoria discovered that Oklahoma City school officials had filed a civil lawsuit against Maples seeking to recover nearly $32,000 it alleges he embezzled before leaving.

Maples remains under criminal investigation by the Oklahoma City police and FBI in connection with that alleged embezzlement.

The Victoria school board voted Thursday to suspend Maples without pay and start termination proceedings on the grounds that he lied on his employment application, the Victoria Advocate newspaper reported Friday. Maples must file a request for a hearing within 15 days if he wants to contest his termination.

Maples answered ``no'' to two questions that asked whether he had been convicted of a crime, according to a copy of Maples' Texas employment application obtained by The Oklahoman.

One question asked whether Maples had ever been convicted of a ``felony or misdemeanor other than a minor traffic violation,'' and the other asked whether he had ever been ``convicted of a felony or offense involving moral turpitude (including, but not limited to, theft, attempted theft, rape, murder, swindling, and indecency with a minor) and/or received probation or deferred adjudication,'' records reveal.

Military records obtained by The Oklahoman indicate Maples, who was a first lieutenant in the Army, received a general court-martial in 1990 after he was found guilty of ``conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.''

He was found guilty of:

_Attempting to steal merchandise and/or insurance proceeds of an approximate value of $21,890 on June 1, 1989.

_Unlawfully altering a public record in 1990.

_Wrongfully wearing unauthorized decorations, badges and awards between Feb. 6, 1989, and Sept. 26, 1990.

Maples was incarcerated in the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., from December 1990 to December 1991, according to Janet Wray, public information officer there.

He was dismissed from the military on Feb. 17, 1992.

Records obtained from the Oklahoma City school district show Maples also answered ``no,'' on his Oklahoma City application when asked if he had ever been convicted of a felony and said he left the U.S. Army in February 2002 because he ``completed tour of duty.''

Gassaway said a military court-martial is not considered a felony.

Maples was an Oklahoma educator for 12 years before moving to Texas.