Local middle school teacher reprimanded for misconduct
Crook County Middle School woodshop teacher and wrestling coach Michael Shinkle was reprimanded with a 90-day educator license suspension and four-year probation for professional misconduct that involved possible child abuse and alcoholism.
The suspension and probation was recently handed down by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission. The commission advises the State Board of Education on licensure, education and performance of teachers, and other matters.
According to district officials, Shinkle has been on unpaid administrative leave since early March of 2017.
At this point, the district plans to allow Shinkle the opportunity to return to employment next fall, but only if he adheres to the probation program outlined by the OTSPC.
"Possible return to work is subject to compliance with recent (OTSPC) findings and ongoing successful completion of school district requirements," Crook County School District Superintendent Duane Yecha said Wednesday afternoon.
The OTSPC report released Monday says Crook County School District filed a report with the commission nearly a year ago, on April 24, 2017, alleging Shinkle's inappropriate physical interaction with a student.
An OTSPC investigation determined that on March 2, 2017, Shinkle engaged in a verbal and physical altercation with a student athlete during wrestling practice. The student was Shinkle's 12-year-old son.
Shinkle was placed on administrative leave while school officials investigated the incident. Local law enforcement and the Department of Human Services also conducted investigations. DHS found their investigation as related to possible child abuse, the report states, and law enforcement filed charges against Shinkle for attempted assault and harassment.
On July 12, 2017, Shinkle plead guilty to one count of misdemeanor harassment and was sentenced to 18 months' probation.
"In the course of the subsequent investigations it became evident that Shinkle was struggling with alcohol dependency," the report states, which resulted in a 2016 conviction for a DUII as well as contributed to other family and professional issues.
On March 8, 2017, Shinkle entered treatment for his dependency issues, which he successfully completed in mid-November.
"In July 2017, Shinkle's divorce became final and his now ex-wife moved his son out of state," the report states. "According to Shinkle, these events contributed to his relapse that resulted in Shinkle's eventual hospitalization."
Last September, he began additional counseling and attending regular Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and has reportedly remained sober since, the report says.
The school district issued Shinkle a written reprimand related to his conduct that included a five-day suspension without pay upon his return to employment and issued him a last-chance agreement to begin upon his return to employment.
The OTSPC suspended Shinkle's Oregon educator license for 90 days following the adoption of the order, which was April 6, 2018. His 90-day suspension will be over before school starts in September.
The commission also imposed a four-year probation to begin upon reinstatement of his license and subject to some terms and conditions. He must comply with the Standards for Competent and Ethical Performances of Oregon Educators; attend counseling for two years; regularly participate in an alcohol dependence recovery program; and provide written progress reports to the commission every three months for two years.
Violation of probation would result in discipline or revoking his educator license.
Yecha said there are legal restrictions concerning personnel matters, however, he said, "We believe appropriate action has been taken after investigation, and we will continue to ensure all staff understand the standard of conduct required by our policies and laws."
Until this past year, Shinkle was highly regarded in the district and was the keynote speaker for the graduation of the class of 2015.