Friday February 15, 2013

DAWSON RASPUZZI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A former high school teacher has surrendered his teaching license and agreed not to trespass at the home or workplace of a school administrator mentioned in videos he posted online in December.

Safety concerns

Steven Davis, who taught math and science at Mount Anthony Union High School the past nine years, surrendered his Vermont teaching license Feb. 7 due to "inappropriate comments, raising safety concerns, felony charge of unlawful trespass, (and a) misdemeanor charge of violating an abuse prevention order," according to the Agency of Education website. Davis resigned from his teaching position Feb. 8.

The safety concerns stemmed from videos and messages Davis posted online the morning of Dec. 31 criticizing school officials, the teachers union and others. The messages were posted shortly after Davis surrendered an AR-15 Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle to police. Later that day Davis was hospitalized, and days later brought to Green Mountain Psychiatric Care Center in Morrisville, where he stayed until Jan. 22. After his release, in which he was medically cleared without conditions, Davis claimed the videos were made during a hypomanic episode induced by over-medication and emotions brought to a front by a personal crisis. He has also apologized for the safety concerns he raised in the community and denied intent to ever cause anybody physical harm.


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Among those identified in the videos was Richard Pembroke, chief financial officer for Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, who also received an email from Davis on Dec. 31 stating that Pembroke was part of his "strategic business plan" and he would be "out of a job or arrested" for an error that was made to Davis’ pay during the 2008-09 school year.

On Jan. 10 Pembroke, through his attorney William D. Wright, filed a no-stalking order against Davis that was granted on a temporary basis until a judge could hear both sides and determine whether to grant it for an extended period.

Instead of fighting the order, Davis on Thursday agreed to a stipulation that he will not go to Pembroke’s home nor the SVSU administrative offices. Upon advice of his attorney, Harold B. Stevens, Davis declined comment on the no-stalking order and reason for surrendering his teaching license.

In addition to the comments Davis made Dec. 31, an affidavit Pembroke filed to apply for the no-stalking order states Davis also called him Dec. 28 asking to have a meeting to "discuss an IRS problem," however Davis did not visit with Pembroke that afternoon as planned. In the affidavit, which became public Thursday, Pembroke states he believes Davis’ focus on him stems from a payroll error that occurred in the 2008-09 school year that has since been resolved. "It appears that (Davis) has continued to hold me responsible for the error as evidenced by his emails, YouTube posting and Facebook postings," Pembroke wrote.

A letter Pembroke sent Davis dated June 30, 2009 indicates Davis was paid a salary of $90,326 that school year -- double what he should have been paid over the previous 12 months. The overpayment was discovered by SVSU June 24, according to the letter that Davis provided the Banner a copy of. The letter states Davis had to return more than $48,000, which Davis has said he did by having the majority of his paychecks the following school year withheld. The letter to Davis states he was "obviously aware of this" before the SVSU business office discovered it, however Davis has said he did not realize he was being overpaid because he had direct deposit and did not closely monitor the account.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com or follow on twitter @DawsonRaspuzzi