TUSCUMBIA, Ala. -- The Deshler High School Band Director was placed on paid administrative leave just days before school was set to begin. School officials were tight-lipped about the reason, but it stemmed from the remodeling of the band rooms office and possible asbestos exposure to students. On Friday morning, the school system brought the issue to an end.
It was standing room only inside the Tuscumbia Board of Education conference room; packed full of band students and parents, supporting long-time director Craig Weeks. The called hearing was to allow Weeks to give his accounts of what led to his paid leave.
“After being told what I was instructed, I misunderstood either because I did not clearly listen or because of a failure to clearly articulate the instructions to me,” Weeks said as he addressed the school board.
Before the meeting, Superintendent Darryl Aikerson made the recommendation to suspend Weeks for 20-days unpaid. His reasoning, Weeks removed carpeting and tiles from his office without allowing the Head of Maintenance to follow protocol and check them for asbestos. Aikerson defined the act as insubordination.
“After the tile was all gone and taken out, I sent Mr. Hand a picture of the tile gone, and I did say It magically disappeared,” Weeks said during his statement.
After an extended executive session to discuss the suspension the school board came to an agreement. Weeks will be suspended without pay for 20-days, but the days will be deducted from the time he has already been on leave, and his pay will be garnished over the next two months.
“It has been a long process, and I have been away from the kids for about 25 days and I’m ready to go back to work and be with them where I know they want me, and I want them,” stated Weeks after the hearing. “It’s going to take some time to go through all this and sort of process it and just go back and reflect and see what I can do better.”
Weeks will be allowed to return to the classroom and band room Monday morning.
As for the asbestos threat in the band room office, we previously reported the tested tiles came back indicating no asbestos was present. Two air quality tests also performed in the band room came back negative for asbestos particles.