Capital Clicks

Teaching associate ousted for mask violations and peddling candy is denied jobless benefits

By: - April 25, 2022 5:11 pm

A teaching associate who was forced out of work for failing to wear a mask and selling candy to students has been denied jobless benefits. (Photo by Getty Images)

A teaching associate who was forced out of work for failing to wear a mask during the pandemic and selling candy to students has been denied unemployment benefits.

Stacy Weston, who worked for the Waukee Community School District as a teaching associate, was forced to resign in February 2021 in lieu of being fired, according to state records.

The school district had alleged Weston repeatedly failed to wear a mask at school despite a directive that the staff do so, and despite several reminders. She also was accused of attempting to peddle candy on school grounds, offering items to students in exchange for cash.

One student reportedly complained that Weston either tried to sell candy to her or had borrowed money from her sometime in February 2021.

Weston had previously been given a warning for allegedly telling a student who failed to follow a directive that she would drag the student by the arm, if need be.

Weston was initially awarded jobless benefits when an administrative law judge found her conduct to be “merely an isolated incident of poor judgment.”

The school district appealed that ruling to the Iowa Employment Appeal Board, which recently reversed the judge’s decision and ruled that Weston is ineligible for benefits.

“Selling candy to students during recess was an act that any reasonable person would know is inappropriate in light of (Weston’s) position of authority over her young charges,” the board ruled.

The board found that given her prior warning and the repeated reminders to wear a mask, Weston’s conduct amounted to a “substantial disregard of the employer’s interests.”

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.