Board upholds firing of custodian — (Tehachapi News)

SSRI Ed note: School custodian has a manic episode caused by antidepressants, attacks Principal, is fired. Diagnosed bipolar, wife blames mental illness.
Original article no longer available

Tehachapi  News

By: Mark Powell, Reporter, Tehachapi News

Posted by editor Tue Nov 3, 2009 18:13:14 PST

The Tehachapi Unified School District board of trustees voted unanimously Oct. 27 to uphold the firing of a former custodian who was arrested for assaulting Tehachapi High School Principal Cary Johnson last April.

With tears in her eyes, Terry Flegal’s wife, Sidney Erickson-Flegal, made a “last-ditch” plea to the board asking them to reconsider firing her husband, whom she said had a “manic episode” on April 20, when he was arrested after a physical altercation with Johnson and a Tehachapi High School student.

Erickson-Flegal said her husband had been suffering from a mental disability, brought on by stress and a slew of antidepressant and anxiety medications, when the incident occurred.

Her husband had recently been diagnosed as bipolar, she said.

Flegal pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery charges on Oct. 28.

He told the TUSD board that previous medications had made him a “crazed man,” and that losing his job made him feel like a “failure.”

“I’m better,” he said, adding, “I can be a productive, good member again.”

Added Erickson-Flegal, “We don’t want Terry treated like Frankenstein.”

TUSD Superintendent Dr. Richard Swanson read from a law enforcement report detailing the assault, which included accounts of Flegal kicking Johnson’s cell phone from his hand as he tried to dial 911.

The report stated that Flegal presented a “clear-and-present danger,” Swanson read.   Swanson recommended a dismissal for insubordination be upheld.

The board voted 5-0 to uphold the firing. Trustee David Shacklock was not present.