At least 10 people approached the Hickory Public Schools Board of Education during their regular meeting on Monday asking the board to keep former principal Rebecca Tuttle on as an employee at Hickory High School.
On Jan. 3, Tuttle was involved in a car wreck. She was charged with DWI, according to police reports. Tuttle’s blood alcohol level was recorded as 0.16 or twice the legal limit.
Police reports indicate Tuttle's vehicle hit a car, a pedestrian and a shed.
Jeanne Turner, career development coordinator at Hickory High, spoke at the Monday board meeting.
“… tonight I’m standing on behalf of many who share my same belief that Ms. Tuttle should return to Hickory High School and hopefully as soon as possible,” Turner said to the board.
Turner told the board that Tuttle has made many sacrifices at Hickory High since becoming principal of the school. “Yet everyone is entitled to have their own opinion on what decision should be made regarding her (Tuttle) return and when … if you have not invested the time or endured the years of constant change, seeing the good, the bad and the ugly at Hickory High School, it’s hard for anybody to say what’s right for us,” Turner said.
Heidi Rice, French teacher at Hickory High, said Tuttle is one of the two best principals she has worked under since becoming employed by Hickory Public Schools in 1988.
Sergio Ramirez, Hickory High graduate, said Tuttle was the only person there that took the time to understand him and motivate him.
Carmen Eckard, former Hickory City Council candidate, has been vocal about her disagreement to have Tuttle reinstated at Hickory High. She started a petition on change.org titled “HHS principal Rebecca Tuttle should not keep her job after DUI with 3 collisions.” It had received over 700 signatures as of Feb. 25. Hickory Public Schools board chairman Bryan Graham said Eckard handed the petition signatures over to the board during the meeting on Monday.
Jaliyah Howell, senior at Hickory High, also attended the board meeting Monday night. She started a petition she said as a response to the one started by Eckard. Howell’s petition, “Approve Ms. Tuttle’s return!!” has received over 400 signatures on change.org as of Feb. 25.
Linda Hirsch, science teacher at Hickory High, addressed Superintendent Robbie Adell during the meeting. “I was so grateful, Dr. Adell, when you came to visit us at Hickory High School the first week of January,” she said. “The news trucks were outside the building that day and you told us the newspapers would be ugly, but you also told us that what we would read in the papers would not be the truth of what happened. That they would present facts that were not the facts.”
Adell said that although it was reported on the Hickory Police Department accident report, Tuttle didn’t hit a pedestrian. “Rebecca Tuttle never hit a pedestrian,” Adell said. “She was never charged with hitting a pedestrian.”
Chief Thurman Whisnant of the Hickory Police Department said that nothing has changed regarding their investigation into the accident since police made a report at the scene on Jan. 3. The police report indicates that Tuttle hit a pedestrian and that detail has neither been confirmed nor disproven, according to Whisnant.
Whisnant said Nathanial Wilson claimed to have been hit by Tuttle during the accident. Wilson was transported by EMS to Catawba Valley Medical Center from the scene, but Whisnant said he had no injuries as a result of the accident.
Whisnant said that if Tuttle did hit a pedestrian in the accident, no additional charge would be made against her. Hitting a pedestrian would fall under the charges of driving while impaired and failure to maintain a lane.
Rebecca Tuttle is scheduled to appear in court on March 3.
Beverly Snowden, director of communications, said the district has not yet made a decision on when Tuttle will return and what position she will have with Hickory Public Schools.
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