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CUYAHOGA FALLS -- An art teacher at Falls High School is on unpaid leave after the district found out she was missing school because she was in jail.
"Currently [Kerry L. Conti] is on an unpaid leave of absence," said Ellen McClure, the district's director of human resources. "And then we are in consultation with our counsel as far as our steps."
Conti pleaded guilty in November to a charge of misdemeanor physical control, which is similar to an OVI but does not require that the vehicle be driven or even started. The charges stemmed from a May 2016 arrest outside a Cuyahoga Falls tavern.
Following her plea, Conti was placed on community control for 18 months and ordered to have a SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) bracelet, which was removed by the court on March 10.
On March 29, the court remanded Conti to Cuyahoga Falls Jail for six days after it found her guilty of violating the terms and conditions of community control. A court record states that Conti tested "positive for alcohol and [admitted] to use of alcohol." A prohibition from consuming alcohol is a standard condition of community control, according to a court official.
When Conti appeared in court on April 3, she was sentenced to Oriana Glenwood Jail for 47 days and was scheduled to go into Oriana's multiple offenders program on April 20 to spend 30 days there. She was also placed into more intensive substance abuse treatment and placed on SCRAM upon her release from jail and will remain on that program until the community control officer determines she has made enough progress, according to a court official.
Conti is scheduled to return to court on May 22.
At the time of her arrest in May 2016, Conti was relieved of her duties as a teacher and placed on paid leave. According to district superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols, after an internal investigation revealed nothing to prevent her from returning to work, Nichols reinstated Conti and she returned to work in September having missed about 15 days.
Conti's unpaid leave of absence began on April 4, "per our teachers' contract," McClure said.
Conti's personnel file at the district office contained two copies of a letter signed by Nichols dated April 5 that was sent by registered mail to her home and to the Oriana Glenwood Jail that stated the district learned she was in jail and she never "directly contacted the school district administration with regard to [her] absence."
According to Nichols' letter, Conti called off on April 3, requesting sick leave through the district's online absence reporting system. The letter goes on to say, "court documents suggest you were ordered to appear in [Stow] Municipal Court on said day this appears to be a falsification of sick leave."
The letter also says there are no provisions for leave because of incarceration in Conti's teacher's contract, and there has been no further documentation of absence or leave requested as of April 5. "Therefore, you are subject to deduction of pay for the duration of absence without approved leave," stated Nichols' letter.
Conti's attorney, Donald Malarcik, did not return a call seeking comment. When reached via email, CFEA president Melody Carlisle declined to comment.