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Arrested in '05, teacher will return to classroom

He teaches Grade 3 at Hernando Elementary.

By EDDY RAMIREZ
Published October 29, 2006


INVERNESS - A third-grade teacher at Hernando Elementary who was arrested in October 2005 after a fight with his wife will be returning to the classroom in January.

Teacher David Bierley has promised to complete an anger management program as part of the deal he struck with district officials that will allow him to return to the school. He will also serve two years of probation as part of a plea bargain reached in court last month.

Superintendent Sandra "Sam" Himmel said this week that she agreed to reinstate Bierley based on his performance as a teacher. She has not heard any complaints that he ever lashed out at students or had trouble controlling his temper in the classroom, she said.

Bierley could not be reached for comment Friday.

Bierley, 56, faced as much as 20 years in prison and a maximum $15,000 in fines after he was charged with felony aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and witness tampering.

Authorities accused him of slapping his wife, pinning her against the couch and trying to stuff a towel down her throat. Police found a handgun on a nearby coffee table.

Under the plea agreement, he was found guilty of one count of misdemeanor battery and one count of misdemeanor witness tampering. He also agreed not to contact his now-ex-wife and will serve community service, take anger management classes and pay $500 in fines.

Bierley has not taught at Hernando Elementary since his arrest. He was placed on administrative leave with pay for a month and has been on sick leave since then.

In January, the district began to set the conditions for Bierley's reinstatement, namely that he complete an anger management course.

"At that time, the superintendent would also require written correspondence from a qualified and licensed health care provider indicating that you are ready to return to the classroom and that you do not pose a danger or threat of any nature to either yourself or your students," Steve Richardson, the district's director of human resources, wrote in a Jan. 4 letter to Bierley.

Richardson said this week that Bierley has agreed to those conditions.

Bierley won mostly praise from superiors since he started teaching at Hernando Elementary in 1998.

Except for a letter of reprimand for failing to prepare a lesson plan once, his most recent evaluations give him praise for helping students make progress in reading. They also recognize his knack for teaching writing.

Eddy Ramirez can be reached at 860-7305 or eramirez@sptimes.com.