Two Havelock High School teachers have resigned their positions after a near drowning of a student on a field trip last week.
Rob Thomas and Meribeth Praml, both listed as science teachers at the school, resigned on Monday. Craven County Schools released a statement Wednesday acknowledging that the two teachers from the field trip had resigned, and that Havelock High Principal Jeff Murphy had secured substitute teachers for their classes.
Wednesday’s statement issued by Jennifer Wagner, spokeswoman for Craven County Schools, also mentioned that an investigation into the events surrounding the field trip was continuing.
Both teachers were on the Sept. 27 field trip in which student Glenn Poole had to be rescued from the ocean and resuscitated on the beach. Thomas helped administer CPR to Poole, who had no pulse and was not breathing at the time he was pulled from the water.
Poole was initially taken to Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City in critical condition before later being transferred to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. A hospital spokesman there said the family had requested that no information about Poole’s condition be released.
Poole was among a group of about 40 students from four classes who went on the field trip Sept. 27 to the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and Fort Macon State Park.
The group included Thomas and Praml as chaperones, but it is not known if they were the only two chaperones for the students.
After visiting the aquarium, the group went to the main bath house beach at Fort Macon where the incident occurred. With summer over, there were no lifeguards at the beach.
Poole apparently got caught in a rip current and had to be rescued, according to a release last week from Craven County Schools.
According to witnesses, two students on the field trip, Will Blythe and Abby Clark, went into the water and helped rescue Poole along with a kayaker and another person on the beach.
Adam Snyder, Atlantic Beach fire chief, said that when Poole was brought out of the water, he had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. Blythe and Thomas were performing CPR when rescue crews arrived.
Snyder described the sea conditions as relatively calm on the day of the field trip but said rip currents – a channel of water that flows strongly from the beach past the breaking waves into the ocean – can occur at anytime.
Snyder said Poole had started breathing and had a heart beat on the beach before he was rushed to Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City.
Blythe refused a request for an interview, saying the focus needed to be on Poole and his recovery. Clark could not be reached.
A statement issued Friday by Craven County Schools indicated the field trip met system policies for having instructional objectives that fit into the instructional program and received approval from the Craven County Board of Education.
Permission slips were required to be signed by parents or guardians for students to make the trip, and according to the release, the field trip request from Havelock High to the district as well as the parent permission slips did not indicate that swimming or entering the water would be part of the day’s activities.
But one student on the trip in a post on the Havelock News website indicated that swimming was part of the day.
“We all knew we were going swimming,” student Alfonzo Martinez posted. “We wrote it down on the permission slips. Nearly everyone brought bathing suits, the beach was a planned part of the trip.”
Wagner said Monday that the school system was standing by its statement in last week’s press release that swimming was not listed on the permission slip. She refused to provide a copy of the permission slip to the Havelock News, saying the slips had private student information. When asked to provide a copy with student information blacked out, Wagner again refused.
Students who were on the field trip and others have posted messages of support for Poole through Facebook and the Havelock News website, and have credited those at the beach for taking action to help rescue him.
“Teamwork was put into action,” senior Tatiana Adkins posted last week. “If it wasn’t for some of the students and the two teachers that were with us, it would (have) been a lot worse. Right now we shouldn’t focus on the could of, should of, and would ofs but on the fact that we all should be praying and never losing hope.”