Polk school board votes to suspend Superintendent at special called meeting

The Polk School District Board of Education voted Tuesday night to suspend Superintendent Dr. Darrell Wetherington with pay.

According to a media release from the school board, the action “occurred after an unfortunate incident and disruption at Westside Elementary School.”

That incident came to light after a school resource officer was called to investigate when Dr. Wetherington arrived at the school and went to his estranged wife’s third grade classroom while students were in the room.

Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome submitted a supplemental report to the initial report, stating that Jennifer Wetherington was “either confused or under duress” when she gave her initial statement to Corporal John Pilgrim, the school resource officer.

She had originally stated to Pilgrim that she had asked Dr. Wetherington to bring her a Diet Coke to the classroom, as recorded in the official police report completed on Friday, February 17.

According to the supplemental report:

Ms. Wetherington says that she has indicated to Dr. Wetherington that she wanted to cut off communication, but she still continued to get messages.

She said that she was “completely surprised when he showed up in her classroom,” and asked him what he was doing there.

Dr. Wetherington replied “I’m bringing you this drink” and told her to take a sip of the drink.

She then told him that she had to teach, but he just stood there next to her desk until a school resource officer arrived to the classroom.

Ms. Wetherington then provided text messages of the conversations to corroborate her statement.

At Tuesday night’s special called meeting, the board voted unanimously to temporarily relieve Dr. Wetherington of his duties.

Board chairman Tommy Sanders said that investigations into the incident at Westside and other matters that might be pertinent to his continuation as Superintendent of the Polk School District will be concluded before a final decision is reached.

School board attorney Michael McRae told those in attendance that a public hearing must be held in regards to Dr. Wetherington’s contract.

That hearing would likely take place sometime in March, according to McRae.

In the meantime, Sanders said that Assistant Superintendents Greg Teems and Laurie Atkins will handle the day-to-day operations of the school system.

Chief Newsome also said that an extra school resource officer will be placed at Westside Elementary School on a fulltime basis while the investigation into Dr. Wetherington’s misconduct allegations continues.