1997 | Fifth grade Kentucky teacher fired for teaching students about hemp

Updated: Jan 19, 2019


Donna Cockrel was notified of her termination from Simpsonville Elementary School by the Shelby County School district Superintentent on July 15, 1997. The termination letter informed Cockrel of her discharge, detailing numerous instances of misconduct, all of which allegedly served as the basis for her discharge. Several of these charges detailed misconduct that occurred prior to Woody Harrelson's initial visit to Simpsonville Elementary. There is no evidence in the record, however, that Cockrel had been reprimanded for such activity prior to Harrelson's visits to her classroom.

The Superintendent then forwarded on to the EPSB (Education Professional Standards Board) the proffered reasons for terminating Cockrel and went on to in request a revoking of Cockrel's teaching certificate. Following review by the EPSB, Cockrel entered into a written agreement whereby her teaching certificate was surrendered for two years (June 1997 to June 1999) and suspended for two years (July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2001). The agreement stated, in part:

"While Cockrel denies any wrongdoing and further denies that her conduct is in any way a violation of KRS 161.120 and/or the Professional Code of Ethics for Kentucky School Personnel, she agrees that the evidence, when presented at formal hearing, is such to result in a finding on all charges that her conduct is in violation of KRS 161.120, and the Professional Code of Ethics for Kentucky School Personnel. Therefore, Cockrel believes that it is in her best interest at this time to enter into this Agreed Order."


Click the links below to learn more about the Harrelson and Cockrel trials:

1996 | Woody Harrelson speaks at Simpsonville Elementary

1996 | Woody Harrelson arrested for planting hemp in Kentucky

1996 | Donna Cockrel investigated after Woody Harrelson hemp presentation

1996 | Kentucky Hemp Museum & Library launches mobile exhibit

1996 | Woody Harrelson launches hemp essay contest

1996 | School trys to revoke Donna Cockrel's teaching certificate

1996 | Woody Harrelson defends Donna Cockrel

1996 | Woody Harrelson announces hemp essay winners

1996 | Charges dismissed against Woody Harrelson for Kentucky hemp planting

1997 | Kentucky Hemp Museum takes Harrelson, Cockrel and essay winner to movie premiere

1997 | Parents protest against Woody Harrelson's scheduled second visit

1997 | Court finds statute "overbroad" after Harrelson charges are dismissed

1997 | Woody Harrelson makes second visit to Simpsonville Elementary

1997 | Parents want Donna Cockrel fired after second Woody Harrelson hemp presentation

1997 | School Evaluation Claims Donna Cockrel Fails to Meet Performance Requirements

1997 | Kentucky General Assembly Hears Testimony On Hemp

1997 | Donna Cockrel is fired from Simpsonville Elementary

1997 | Woody Harrelson issues statement regarding Donna Cockrel's termination

1998 | Cockrel files suit against Shelby County schools

1998 | Farmers sue to overturn ban on hemp

2000 | Kentucky Supreme Court rules no distinction between hemp and marijuana

2000 | Woody Harrelson acquitted of hemp charges

2001 | Court reverses decision in Donna Cockrel vs. Shelby County schools

2003 | Donna Cockrel receives $70,000 settlement

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Sources

http://openjurist.org/270/f3d/1036/donna-cockrel-v-shelby-county-school-district-et-al

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-6th-circuit/1333648.html#sthash.7ZjPOQPz.dpuf


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