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Former Union High School theater teacher surrenders teaching license

Posted at 9:44 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 23:28:12-04

TULSA, Okla. — According to the State Department of Education, Troy Powell, surrendered his teaching license Monday, after the State Department of Education presented 18 pages of complaints.

The surrender means he cannot teach in a public school for the next five years.

“When we started the investigation, he was still teaching so for us, it feels like it was long overdue," Courtney Farney, a former Union High School Drama said.

Farney is among dozens of union theater alumni who have raised complaints against former Union Theater Teacher Troy Powell for inappropriate behavior they said made them feel uncomfortable, like forcing students to hug him as they entered the classroom.

“Girls were required to give a hug. If you didn’t want to do this, you were berated, or made to feel bad," Farney said.

Farney said she and another former student compiled dozens of interviews with current and former students who shared similar complaints.

“I witnessed him berating students for physical appearance…for race, sexuality, just off-handed comments," Farney said.

She said they shared that information with a Union High School Administrator back in July of last year. She said that administrator told them he would report it to other district leaders. Farney also turned those interviews over to the State Board of Education.

“We did it for those students coming up, that they wouldn’t have to be subjected to this. They could come learn in a safe environment," Farney said.

Last Friday, Attorney with the Oklahoma State Board of Education submitted an application to revoke Powell's teaching license.

The 18 page document details allegations from more than 20 students and alumni alleging Powell did not create a safe physical or emotional environment for students.

One student alleged Powell "berated and degraded" students. Another account said Powell's supervisor was dismissive of at least one complaint.

The application also stating:

"Despite numerous requests by the Department beginning in February 2022, the district has not provided any documentation or acknowledgement relating to concerns that were allegedly reported to district staff.

We reached out to Union High School for comment. They declined an interview and said they could not discuss this because it was a personnel matter.

“To know that he’s no longer in the classroom and students are no longer subjected to his behavior and the mistreatment is excellent news to me," Farney said.

We have been unable to reach Troy Powell for comment.
We reached out to the State Department of Education to ask what's next and are waiting for a response.

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