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1997 | Parents call for dismissal of Donna Cockrel after Harrelson hemp presentation

Updated: Jan 19, 2019

On Thursday, Feburary 20, 1997 parents of students at Simpsonville Elementary School gathered at the school for a Parent Teacher Association ("PTA") meeting at 7 p.m. to discuss the dismissal for Donna Cockrel after having Woody Harrelson speak to her 5th grade class about hemp, and having him back on numerous occasions.

Media coverage highlighted the schools disatisfaction with Cockrel and Harrelson, with articles like "PARENTS TO VOTE ON TEACHER WHO HAD HARRELSON IN CLASS" published by the Lexington Herald-Leader on Feburary 16, 1997. See article text below.

SIMPSONVILLE - Parents of Simpsonville Elementary pupils will vote this week whether to support a teacher who has attracted controversy for her support of legalizing industrial hemp.

The parents will discuss fifth-grade teacher Donna Cockrel at the school's Parent Teacher Association meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday.

PTA president Carol Luken said the purpose of the meeting is for members to vote on whether to support Cockrel. Depending on the majority view, the group could vote to call for her to be dismissed...

The meeting resulted in the following “position statement,” which stated, in part:

"In our opinion, Mrs. Cockrel's behavior over the past few months has been inappropriate for a teacher and role model for our children. We feel she violated the professional code of ethics for KY. [sic] school personnel. In our opinion, she can no longer be an effective educator in our system and our children's education would be better served by another teacher."

An article was published by the Herald-Leader expressing the parents decision to call for the dismissal of Cockrel from Simpsonville Elementary School. See text below.


Published 02/21/97

SIMPSONVILLE - A parents' group at Simpsonville Elementary last night called for the dismissal of a controversial fifth-grade teacher for teaching students about industrial hemp.

About 150 people filled the gymnasium bleachers, and a steady stream of parents took turns criticizing Donna Cockrel and her classroom conduct.

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



February 16, 1997, Lexington Herald-Leader

February 21, 1997, Lexington Herald- Leader

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