Education board revokes, suspends licenses of AZ teachers

Arizona Assistant Attorney General Eric Schwarz talked to the Arizona State Board of Education about the cases of two teachers accused of communicating inappropriately with students. The board revoked the licenses of four educators at a February board meeting. (Photo by Devon Cordell/ Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Board of Education has revoked the licenses of two Arizona teachers accused of communicating inappropriately with students online or on social media and suspended the licenses of two teachers accused of drinking on the job.

The licenses of Christopher A. Heavin and Susan Yonker were revoked in unrelated cases. Heavin messaged a student through World of Warcraft to try to pressure the girl into meeting outside of school, investigators said. Yonker’s Instagram messages and texts with a student contained profanity and complaints about other students and colleagues, according to public documents.

Neither teacher attended the board meeting. Representatives from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said they could not reach Heavin. Yonker sent a letter of apology to the board, which was read to them, saying she hadn’t previously used inappropriate language with students.

“I’ve never done it in person, so I don’t know why I had done it through messaging,” Yonker wrote, saying she had been going through a difficult time in her life. “I was always one of the best teachers on our campus.”

The names of teachers with revoked licenses are entered into a national database alerting schools and districts throughout the country of the revocations, according to Assistant Attorney General Eric Schwarz.

Board member Charles Schmidt did not attend Monday’s board meeting but sent a letter, saying he’s worried about a “growing number” of teachers and coaches taking advantage of students.

“We must engage this problem and seek assistance from others who can help us with an effective and accountable approach,” Schmidt wrote.

In all, the board approved license revocation of four educators, the surrender of licenses for seven educators, and suspended the licenses of three others, including two teachers accused of drinking on the job.

Drinking while responsible for children at school is “unconscionable,” said Diane Douglas, the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. She was the lone vote against the one-year suspensions for the two teachers because she said the discipline didn’t go far enough.