W. Rutland teacher suspended and charged over alcohol offense
By Brent Curtis
Staff writer | February 01,2014
A grade school teacher at the West Rutland School has been suspended and is facing a criminal charge for allegedly buying alcohol for an 18-year-old.
Michelle L. Merrill, 31, of Rutland, who has taught first and second grade in West Rutland, pleaded innocent in Rutland criminal court this week to a misdemeanor charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor.
In addition to facing a potential two-year prison term for the offense, her job at the school is threatened.
In October, the Rutland Central Supervisory Union placed her first on administrative leave before changing her status to “suspended,” Superintendent Debra Taylor said Friday.
Taylor said a disciplinary hearing for Merrill was pending before the School Board although she said the hearing has yet to be scheduled.
The superintendent declined further comment on the reasons for Merrill’s suspension.
However, in an affidavit filed by Rutland County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Johnathan Bixby, police say school officials in October asked police to conduct an investigation into reports that Merrill had furnished alcohol to minors and possible inappropriate contact with a former student at the school.
Bixby wrote only the allegation that Merrill provided alcohol to a minor constituted a criminal charge.
Police say a former student at the school who graduated in 2012 told police Merrill bought him a 12-pack of Bud Light beer in July of that year.
The former student said he knew Merrill because she assisted in one of his classes and was engaged in fundraising activities during his senior year of high school.
The former student told police the 12-pack purchase was the only time that Merrill had bought him alcohol.
But Bixby wrote in his affidavit that Merrill was seen at the Westside Tavern in West Rutland in September with a young woman who was another recent graduate from the high school.