Willard High School choir director resigns after settlement with district

WILLARD, Mo. -- The director of Willard High School's choir has resigned.

We have learned Jerry Scott and the district agreed on a settlement following his resignation.

The district placed Scott on paid leave in March. The district, nor Scott, gave a reason for the move at the time.

Parents and students quickly showed support for Scott. They organized a rally outside the district's offices before a school board meeting. District officials say they applaud the manner in which the students and community handled themselves during their protest.

Scott's supporters also pushed an online petition. Scott's wife, Vicky, a music instructor at Missouri State University, posted a message to the online petition. She wrote her husband did not do anything illegal or immoral and he was put on leave over a concern already handled by the administration.

District Superintendent, Matt Teeter, says administrators received more information into allegations that Scott left children unattended in the classroom.

Scott was suspended with pay in March as the school board continued to investigate allegations that he left students unsupervised in the classroom

"In order for us to have a fantastic learning environment we have to have a safe environment. Essentially those charges are exactly that, to your point, they're in regards to safety," he says.

Those charges Teeter is referring to involve times when the district says Scott violated policy. He did not breaking the law.

The official documents filed in this case say that Scott failed to properly supervise all students. In one instance, during his absence, they say a student pulled a knife on at least two other kids.

The letter also says that Scott was cited for a lack of maturity and judgment.

Scott didn't want to go on camera but says that there is always at least one adult faculty member with students at all times, either him or his assistant director. He says the only times he would leave the classroom was to go to his office.

Attorneys for both sides reached an agreement that called for Scott to resign. Everyone involved decided it was the right move, instead of having a public hearing.

"In a hearing there would have been a whole lot more information out there. I think it's a more peaceful agreement in regards to both the party and the district," says Teeter.

The focus for everyone now is to move on.

Teeter says, "Ultimately our district's responsibility is to do what's best for kids and the safety of our kids and so therefore we landed in this situation today."

Scott tells us that he's been in touch with his former students and is urging them to continue to strive for greatness.

The district has hired Mark Lawley to replace Scott next year.

Lawley was the choir director before Scott took the position, several years ago.