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NEWS STORIES

Teacher accused of selling pot got 'glowing recommendations' during hiring processSubmitted: 11/14/2013
Story By Lex Gray


RHINELANDER - Police searched a Rhinelander High School teacher's house because they thought he had been stealing equipment from the school.

They say that's when they found 66 marijuana plants and a sophisticated grow operation. Since we reported that story last week, people have been asking how Joshua Juergens got hired in the first place.

"We got glowing recommendations," said superintendent Kelli Jacobi. "I don't know that those were all completely honest."

Superintendent Kelli Jacobi says the district did a background check on Juergens. That check turned up a record, as does a simple online search of Wisconsin's online court records.

In 2010, Juergens was convicted of disorderly conduct. In 1997, he was convicted of marijuana possession, both misdemeanors.

"We did know that there was a drug issue, a misdemeanor, I believe he was 19," Jacobi said. "We look at patterns in behavior. If something is a recurring thing in a background check, that definitely signals a problem."

But Jacobi says she can't factor certain convictions into the hiring process.

For now, Juergens is on unpaid leave from his teaching job. He'll stay in the Oneida County Jail unless he can come up with his $2,000 bail or get into a treatment facility.

He returns to court November 21.

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"Mrs. Johnson was always one of our favorite teachers, you could go to her about anything like troubles at home or bullying, and she'd always be there for us so it's really nice to give back to her," said Phelps 8th grader Alexandria Myszka.

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