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The Carroll school board has refused to rehire Yvonne Fielder, who's now
cleared of drug charges.

Carroll, Ia. - A former Carroll teacher who was cleared of drug charges is
fighting for her job more than a year after she was fired.

Yvonne Fielder lost her job after police found a marijuana cigarette and
paraphernalia in her home in August 2000. Protests by dozens of parents and
students didn't sway the school board. Neither did Fielder's son, who took
responsibility for the marijuana.

The board didn't budge when a jury acquitted Fielder last spring, or when
an arbitrator ruled that the 26-year teacher had the right to return to her
job. Instead, school officials appealed.

Within weeks, a district court judge will decide whether the arbitrator's
ruling should stand.

Attorneys duked out Fielder's past and future Tuesday in a battle that
appears headed for the Iowa Supreme Court, both sides say. The award-
winning speech and drama teacher wants to clear her name.

School officials "are trying to save face, so they keep going farther and
farther, and it's costing more money that could be going back into the
educational system," said Rachel Stork, 18, a former student of Fielder's.
"I think it would be better if they admitted that they should have waited
until her criminal trial . . . and decided from there."

Superintendent Steve Schulz did not return a telephone call Tuesday.

Fielder and her son, Jason, were arrested after a police raid turned up
bongs, pipes, devices to roll cigarettes, marijuana seeds, marijuana stems
and a marijuana cigarette. Jason Fielder lived in Des Moines but had been
staying with his mother.

Fielder said she found the cigarette after her son's high school graduation
party in 1998, and Jason Fielder denied marijuana use. His mother
eventually forgot about the cigarette, said Jay Hammond, her attorney.

Fielder kept her husband's marijuana pipe and other paraphernalia as
keepsakes after he died in a car accident more than a decade ago, her
attorney has said.

Tuesday, the school attorney portrayed Fielder as a woman with poor
parenting skills and a permissive attitude. Fielder violated the school's
strict antidrug policy because she knew about drug materials in her home,
said Brian Gruhn, a Cedar Rapids lawyer.

"We can't have a double standard," he said. "It sends the wrong message to

Fielder's attorney said school officials were trying to predict the trial's
outcome and the public's reaction when they fired her nine months before
the trial.

Fielder lives in Florida, where she began a new teaching job this fall. She
could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Teacher case

THE ISSUE: The Carroll school district wants to block a former teacher from
returning to her job.

BACKGROUND: The school board fired Yvonne Fielder in September 2000 after
police found marijuana and paraphernalia in her home. Students

and parents rallied around the award-winning speech and debate teacher. A
jury acquitted Fielder in April, saying her son was to blame. Days later,

an arbitrator decided Fielder should get her job back. The school district
appealed the decision.

WHAT'S NEXT: District Judge William Ostlund will decide who's right within

Newshawk: Sledhead
Pubdate: Wed, 12 Dec 2001
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2001 The Des Moines Register.
Contact: letters@news.dmreg.com
Website: The Des Moines Register
Details: Overload Warning
Author: Staci Hupp
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