The Tecumseh School District will employ an abatement and restoration company to ensure a Pre-Kindergarten classroom is clean and safe and will review policies for hazardous materials following an odor incident that concerned parents earlier this month at Krouch Early Childhood Center.
On Thursday, the Tecumseh Board of Education held a special meeting about the Dec. 7 odor incident and ended up accepting an employee's resignation.
On Dec. 7, an odor was detected in one of the Pre-K classrooms. Students were temporarily evacuated while the fire department and a representative from Oklahoma Natural Gas investigated the smell.
It was discovered the odor came from a product commonly known as Bee Go, which is reportedly used by beekeepers to remove bees from their hive. Parents received information that it was later determined that a teacher's assistant had the substance in the classroom. That assistant, identified on the meeting agenda as Lori Heffley, resigned and the school board officially approved her resignation following a lengthy executive session Thursday.
Before that action, the agenda called for public comments regarding the odor incident and several parents addressed the school board about the incident. One parent, Julie Branham, expressed her displeasure with the way the situation was handled.
“I don't think anybody acted maliciously but I don't think the situation was handled correctly,” Branham said.
Branham, who said she was not properly notified of the situation that happened at the school, asked for the immediate resignation or removal of Superintendent Tom Wilsie, Assistant Superintendent Julie McCormick and Krouch Principal Tammy Giaudrone.
The school board informed her they could not discuss anything not specifically on the meeting's agenda.
After a two and a half hour executive session to discuss Heffley's resignation and pending investigation of the odor, as posted on the agenda, the school board, along with their legal representative, issued the following statement:
“As the Tecumseh Board of Education we want to first express that the safety of our students is our number one priority. Moving forward we want to ensure that the room is clean and safe for our students to return to at the beginning of the second semester. We direct the administration to employ a restoration/abatement company that can ensure that the classroom is clean and safe for students and staff to reenter.”
“As the Tecumseh Board of Education our hope and desire is that as a district we use this opportunity to make our emergency response plans better so that we can grow from this incident. With this desire in mind we direct that the administration review the current policy dealing with potential hazardous materials. The review of the policy should include the review by an expert in the field of crisis planning. This plan should be brought back to the board for their review and approval.”
“As the Tecumseh Board of Education we believe the communication with our parents is an important component of our partnership within our community. We request that the administration make every effort to keep parents informed of situations that involve the safety of their child. This communication will be accomplished by the school messenger system and potentially through notes home in Tuesday folders.”
“We appreciate your statements and comments, and direct the administration to provide a detailed timeline that addresses the question of the notification systems, of student attendance and the clean-up of the incident.”
Heffley could not be reached for comment.