A pair of Toledo Public Schools teachers were suspended and escorted by security out of their buildings in recent days, just as the school year was coming to a close.
Angela Free-Knack, 36, and Matthew Schafer, 45, have been placed on paid suspension pending the outcome of investigations into unspecified incidents, TPS Chief of Staff Brian Murphy said.
Police reports show that both were involved in unrelated incidents: Ms. Free-Knack was in a heated dispute with a parent; Mr. Schafer was accused of threatening someone over a decision not to renew his contract.
Mr. Schafer is in his first year with the district and was a teacher at Spring Elementary in North Toledo. New TPS teachers are given short-term contracts during an initial intern period.
According to a police report, Mr. Schafer called a caseworker Friday at the Harbor mental health facility at Robinson Elementary because he was upset that she had not recommended him for a contract renewal with TPS.
Mr. Schafer became agitated and threatened the caseworker and her husband, the police report states.
“He indicated that he was going to go to her office and smash her in the face and either die or go to jail,” according to the report.
TPS security was notified on Monday and removed him from Spring. He claimed he didn’t know why he was suspended or removed. Mr. Schafer was also released from his position for the rest of the school year, because the district plans to not renew his contract, Mr. Murphy said.
Ms. Free-Knack, who has worked for TPS since 2000, is a teacher at Grove Patterson Academy in West Toledo.
Both Ms. Free-Knack and a student’s parent, Sonia Kay McCadney, filed complaints against each other following a dispute on May 29.
Ms. Free-Knack was a chaperon on an eighth-grade trip to Washington. There was a dispute over the dress code between her and Ms. McCadney’s daughter during the trip.
Ms. McCadney, 45, said she tried to talk to Ms. Free-Knack in the parking lot of Home Depot on Secor Road on Thursday afternoon, after the bus returned to Toledo. She said she wanted to set up a meeting to discuss the dispute.
Ms. McCadney claims the teacher’s husband, David Knack, “appeared out of nowhere” and swung at her, according to the police report. She reiterated her claim in an interview with The Blade on Thursday.
In Ms. Free-Knack’s version of events, Ms. McCadney approached her, threatened to assault her, and raised her fist as if she was going to strike her, according to the police report. Mr. Knack stepped between the pair, she said.
Ms. Free-Knack claims that Ms. McCadney and a friend were heard by other parents plotting to attack her, and that there is video of the incident, though she couldn’t immediately provide it.
Ms. McCadney said Thursday she never threatened the teacher and that other parents witnessed the altercation. Her daughter is a good student who looks up to teachers, she said.
“This whole incident is really crazy to me,” she said. “It’s very disappointing.”
Ms. Free-Knack was given her suspension letter Friday and escorted from the building, Mr. Murphy said.
Ms. McCadney said that Ms. Free-Knack refused to let her daughter enter class on Friday, despite an order from her principal. That incident is what prompted security to arrive, Ms. McCadney claimed.
Ms. Free-Knack says she‘’s the one who called security and that she left the building on her own. ”I'm not going to have my name trashed when I did absolutely nothing wrong,“ Ms. Free-Knack said.
The employees’ personnel files were not available for public review Tuesday because some personal information had not yet been redacted, a district spokesman said.
Typically, when TPS suspends an employee, a letter explaining the general reason for the suspension and investigation is included in the employee’s personnel file, but district staff said Mr. Schafer and Ms. Free-Knack‘s files do not yet have such letters.
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