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Merrill School Board votes to reinstate teacher fired for smoking pot

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MERRILL, WI (WTAQ) - The Merrill School Board has voted to reinstate a teacher who was fired earlier this year, for smoking marijuana sold to him in a school drug ring in Antigo.

Middle school science teacher Jay Peterson filed a union grievance after he was terminated.

The Merrill teachers’ union, the School Board, and Peterson issued a joint statement Wednesday, saying they avoided a costly and uncertain arbitration process in the matter.

The School Board accepted the deal on a 5-4 vote.

Under the terms, Peterson will return this fall after what will be considered a one-year unpaid leave. He was given a deferred prosecution agreement, in which his criminal charge would be dropped if he stays clean.

Peterson said he turned to marijuana after his home was destroyed in the Merrill tornado almost two years ago.

He was one of about 15 people charged last year, as part of a marijuana sales ring headed by former Antigo football coach and elementary principal John Lund.

Lund is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5th, on a felony conviction of manufacturing marijuana with the intent to sell it.

Most of the Antigo and Merrill teachers who were arrested were caught using pot, and were given deferred prosecution agreements.

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