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Osbon to return to classroom at THS

Neil Osbon is back teaching in the classroom at Thomson High School.

The 36-year-old English teacher and coach of the school's cross country team was scheduled to return on Wednesday, following a 14-day punishment by school officials for insubordination, according to McDuffie County School Superintendent Mark Petersen.

"He's been given a perimeter in writing and failure to follow the instructions given will be grounds for termination," Dr. Petersen said following a 20-minute meeting that Mr. Osbon and his attorney, Andrew McGruder, attended Tuesday at the McDuffie County Board of Education office in Thomson. Dr. Petersen refused to divulge what those perimeters might be, but did say that Mr. Osbon would be "monitored" by school administrators.

Dr. Petersen said Mr. Osbon will be expected to "behave in a professional manner" as a teacher. A copy of the perimeter guidelines also has been placed in his personnel file, the school superintendent added.

Neither Mr. Osbon nor his attorney would make any comment to reporters following the meeting. Dr. Petersen said others attending the meeting included Connie Davis, director of human resources; Thomson High Principal Rudy Falana and Assistant Principal Lynn Cato.

Asked if Mr. Osbon would be coaching and accompanying the cross country team to Guyton on Wednesday for regional competition, Dr. Petersen would not say. He noted that two weeks ago, only a few of the cross country members showed up to participate in a meet against Washington-Wilkes.

Mr. Osbon had been practicing hands-on faith healing with students at Thomson High School and then documenting each of those occurrences on his personal internet website. In many instances, he identified those reportedly healed by their initials along with the time and date - many of whom included student/athletes.

At least two students contacted recently by The McDuffie Mirror said that Mr. Osbon had mixed teaching English with religion in his classroom. They also said he ceased to discuss religion after being told to do so by the principal.

The incident of mixing religion in the classroom and on the school campus has occurred on at least two occasions. The first time, he was told to stop by the principal, Dr. Petersen said. The second time such an incident arose, Dr. Petersen recommended that Mr. Osbon be placed on administrative leave for four days with pay and subsequently be suspended for 10 days without pay.

Web posted on Friday, November 02, 2007

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