PICKERINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) –The Pickerington Local School District reversed course Wednesday and agreed to pay second grade teacher Angela Luke while she is suspended.
Luke was being assaulted by her husband, Daniel Luke, on Sunday night according to the couple’s 12 year old daughter who made the frantic 9-1-1 call. The girl told a dispatcher she, along with her mother and sister, were trying to flee their violent father. The girl said her father was holding onto their car as they drove away, then slipped before being run over by the car.
Fellow teachers and the Pickerington Education Association encouraged the district to pay Luke, who they say is a victim of domestic violence.
Pickerington Education Association President Heather Miller says, “Not only do they have to worry about the ramifications of reporting the domestic violence, but they also have to worry about whether they will have a job after the domestic violence.”
Kim Norris, associate director of the Ohio Department of Education, said state law does not require that Luke be put on unpaid leave–but it does require that she be suspended.
“The law does not mention whether the teacher could or should be paid,” Norris said. “That is a district decision.”
Superintendent Valerie Browning-Thompson said she would be willing to revisit this decision during an interview with NBC4. The district chose to reverse its decision and pay Angela Luke after listening to the 9-1-1 call. Here is the district’s official statement:
Pickerington Schools Superintendent Valerie Browning-Thompson determined Wednesday afternoon that the district will reinstate pay for teacher Angela Luke.
The decision was made following a review of the 9-1-1 call, discussions with district legal counsel and the Ohio Department of Education, and consultation with the district board of education.
“What happened Sunday was a tragedy for Angela, her family, and the family of her late husband,” Browning-Thompson said. “While state law requires the district to suspend a teacher from all duties that require the care, custody or control of a child during the pendency of court action for something as serious as reckless homicide, the decision about whether to suspend pay is up to the discretion of the district.”
On Monday, Angela Luke was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated vehicular homicide. The district’s legal counsel has advised the district that we are required by state law (ORC 3319.40) to suspend her from all duties involving the care, custody or control of children until the situation is resolved by the courts. Specifically, this suspension is required because reckless homicide is on a list of the Ohio Revised Code’s “irrevocable offenses” that could result in her teaching license to be revoked.
“Angela has been a highly regarded teacher for 11 years,” Browning-Thompson said. “As such, her friends and colleagues are understandably concerned for both her wellbeing and the welfare of her children. We are keeping them, as well as the family of Mr. Luke, in our thoughts and prayers.”
Browning-Thompson previously said, “On advice of our legal counsel that’s the action we had to take. And, we believe that that is what the law requires of us.”
Angela Luke faces reckless homicide and vehicular homicide charges. The investigation is expected to last at least 30 days.