Four Oklahoma teachers have certificates revoked for past crimes

Wednesday, August 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The state education superintendent wants to better detect teachers with felony records after four Oklahoma teachers had their teaching certificates revoked Tuesday due to past criminal activity.

State law forbids a person convicted of a felony from working in a school system, but Oklahoma Superintendent Sandy Garrett said the state has a weak system of detecting such teachers. She directed her staff to come up with a plan to improve the situation.

The Department of Education often learns of teacher convictions from news clippings, said department general counsel Kay Harley.

Harley said a national clearinghouse lets education officials know about teachers whose licenses have been revoked in other states, but she said that information is not always timely.

Among those whose certificates were revoked by the state Board of Education was Andrew Wilson Jr., a former guidance dean at Rogers High School in Tulsa who pleaded no contest to a sexual battery charge involving a student in April 1999.

Wilson was charged with touching a 16-year-old girl in a sexual manner.

A Department of Corrections background report said Wilson denies having any physical contact with the student.

The board also revoked the teaching certificate of Jacqueline Onetha Bennett of Oklahoma City, who in 1995 was convicted of attempting to obtain property under false pretense. She received as suspended sentence, Harley said, and a year later indicated she had not been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years on a teaching certificate renewal.

The board also voted to revoke the teaching certificate of Brian Ray Strother of Wetumka, who in July 1997 was put on administrative leave with pay from the Clint Independent School District in Texas, pending the outcome of a sexual abuse investigation.

According to a complaint, he applied for Oklahoma certification and misrepresented that there was no pending action against him at the time for alleged misconduct in any school district in any other state.

The board also revoked the teaching certificate of Diana Lynn Buchanan, whose Texas certificate was revoked in April 1994 after she was charged with public indecency with a child and pleaded guilty to public lewdness. She received two years of probation. The misdemeanor charged stemmed from sexual relations with a student.