Livonia teacher accused of child abuse resigns

The Livonia Public Schools teacher accused of abusing special-needs preschoolers resigned Oct. 16, school officials said Tuesday.

Sharon Turbiak will remain on paid administrative leave until March 31, 2013, the effective date of her resignation, they said. She has not been charged with any crime.

Turbiak was scheduled to go before the Michigan Tenure Commission Monday. The school board voted unanimously June 18 to recommend the tenure commission terminate Turbiak’s employment. The tenure commission has the final say in whether a teacher is fired.

Superintendent Randy Liepa said the district had the choice of proceeding through the tenure process or accepting her resignation, and it made more sense to accept the resignation.

The resignation letter was presented to the tenure commission Monday. “We were prepared to go to the tenure commission to seek her dismissal,” said Liepa. “But with her resignation letter, that issue has been addressed.”

Liepa said that when teachers go before the tenure commission, they receive their full salary during the hearing process and while the final determination is being made by the MTC.

The district estimated the tenure hearing process would last through March with expenses for attorneys and staff time adding to total cost of the tenure process.

There’s always the possibility that the outcome of the hearings would have allowed Turbiak back into the classroom, which was not the goal of the district from the start, Liepa said.

“This is what we set out to do, to terminate her relationship with the district,” said Liepa. “This is finality for us. This is what we wanted.”

An internal school district report on the alleged abuse will be released via the Freedom of Information Act after the Michigan Tenure Commission issues the dismissal order for the case, Liepa said. Another FOIA will need to be filed at that time, he said.

A Wayne County Circuit judge had ruled the report be sealed during the tenure commission process. Turbiak secured the injunction July 10 on the grounds it violated her right to have a closed tenure hearing.

Jeffrey T. Stewart, a Farmington Hills attorney retained by parents of two of the children, said he found it interesting that the resignation won’t be effective until next March. He said the resignation has no bearing on the possibility of a civil lawsuit being filed. He said the report “will have an effect on what steps we take next.”

Turbiak is accused of slapping, grabbing and force feeding special-needs preschoolers in her classroom at Webster Elementary, among other unprofessional classroom management practices, from about October 2011 to April 2012. A 14-year Livonia Public Schools employee, Turbiak has been on paid administrative leave since April.

Livonia police sought warrants from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, but those warrants were denied and the case was closed.

A parapro who was also accused in the case was terminated on June 13.

ksmith@hometownlife.com (313) 222-2098

Article source: http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20121025/NEWS10/210250555

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