A 36-year-old Thomson High School teacher has been suspended through the end of the month.
Neil Osbon, an English teacher and coach of the school's cross country team, will be out of the classroom for at least 14 days: four on administrative leave with pay, which ended Oct. 16, followed by another 10 days without pay, according to McDuffie County School Superintendent Mark Petersen.
The 10-day suspension was imposed by school board members following an executive session meeting last Thursday night. The school superintendent said he recommended the disciplinary actions.
Mr. Osbon was advised of the disciplinary action in a certified letter sent to his home, Dr. Petersen told The McDuffie Mirror.
Dr. Petersen wouldn't comment about what led to the suspension, but did say the issues ended up in the hands of school board members after attempts to deal with the issue on the school level were not successful. Meanwhlile, Mr. Osbon had "no comment" when reached at his home in Evans on Wednesday morning by The McDuffie Mirror.
However, at least two internet blogs attributed to Mr. Osbon show a pattern of "hands-on healing" incidents on the campus and in several classrooms at Thomson High.
One of the blogs, entitled "Jesus is the worker of miracles," is described as a "chronicle of the healings and other miracles that God began doing in Thomson, Georgia on Tuesday, August 28, 2007." It lays out a plan for salvation for readers.
But it also provides a description of more than 50 "miracles" in which Mr. Osbon claims to be the instrument of healing students from pain and illnesses at Thomson High. In the nine page blog, which chronicles events from Aug. 28 through Sept. 20, Mr. Osbon quotes numerous verses from the New Testament and his interpretation, which he said is an explanation of "why and how these wonderful events happen."
The "healing miracles" described vary from headaches, sore throats, old sports injuries, ear aches, stomach aches, back aches and toothaches to diabetes and whiplash. The healings took place in classrooms during class time with students, during cross-country track practice and track meets with team members, in the school yard between classes with other athletes and in the school hall during class time.
In one incident, Mr. Osbon said "something just got on me," when he was in another class where a substitute teacher was in charge, and he made an announcement asking if anyone was in pain. Mr. Osbon then walked through the classroom "healing" students.
"When things got rowdy, I told them that I'd be back at the end of class, and that they should do their work because God is a God of order," Mr. Osbon said in the blog.
Several other incidents are described where Mr. Osbon said he instructed the students to lay hands on their fellow students and "work a miracle."
"Proving it's not just me doing these things," he said in the blog.
Dr. Petersen said he, too, had read the blogs, but would not comment about the specifics of the musings.
For now, school officials are continuing their investigation, according to Dr. Petersen. And they are trying to figure out who'll lead the high school's cross country team.
Thomson High School Athletic Director Luther Welsh said he was aware of Mr. Osbon's suspension, but did not know any of the details concerning such action.
"That matter was handled by persons other than myself," Coach Welsh said Monday. "From everything I know, he was doing a good job with our cross country team."
Coach Welsh explained that Mr. Osbon came to him three years ago expressing an interest in coaching cross country at the high school and that he welcomed him aboard.
The cross country team at Thomson High School consists of 14 boys and four girls.