Judge clears charges against teacher accused of buying booze for students

Accusations that a Kanawha County substitute teacher purchased alcohol for students at Capital High School were rooted in misleading statements from a disgruntled parent, the teacher said Wednesday.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom approved a motion to expunge the criminal record for April Perry Noble, 42, of Kanawha City, who was charged in March with seven counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child.

Kanawha Magistrate Joe Shelton dropped the charges against Noble on Sept. 28.

“Basically, it was dismissed because it never should’ve happened,” Noble said during the hearing Wednesday. “The parents fought this from the day they even questioned the kids at the school because of an anonymous letter that was not factual. … It had nothing to do with me teaching or anything like that. It was a disgruntled parent because her child was not invited to my house.”

Noble never has been charged with any other crime, according to court records cited Wednesday.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court, Capital High School Principal Larry Bailey reported to Charleston Police an email he received from a parent about parties at Noble’s house.

Noble was accused of collecting money from the teens and purchasing alcohol, according to the complaint.

The reporting police officer said Noble “told the kids that if they were going to drink, she wanted it to be somewhere safe with supervision.”

Those specific words were taken out-of-context, Noble said Wednesday.

Noble said she never purchased alcohol for the teenagers, including her daughter, who all were students at Capital.

Noble said she’d once collected money for the teens to purchase pizza and snacks, and she caught the teens on three occasions drinking in her home, twice with them sneaking into wine coolers she kept at her house.

She said she regularly was in touch with the teens’ parents.

The third time she caught the teens drinking, she said she heard them giggling at about 3:30 a.m. one morning, and she found out one of them had brought vodka into her home.

“At that time my only concern was for the safety of these children,” Noble said.

She told Bloom she took away car keys from the two teens who were old enough to drive, and she stayed up all night testing the blood sugar for one of the teens, who has diabetes.

“I was outraged when it first happened,” Noble said. “I made the statement, which was obviously taken out of context later, after I calmed down, I said, ‘If anything, I’m glad that if you guys did this, you at least did it under the safety of my own roof and not in some car, injuring other people and potentially endangering yourself.’”

At the time of the incidents, Noble said she was separated from her now ex-husband. She said all of the teenagers who she caught drinking were good kids who were experimenting and maybe taking a little bit of advantage of having one less adult in the house.

As a result of the charges against her, Noble was suspended from Kanawha County Schools for eight months without pay.

School district officials reinstated Noble’s substitute teaching privileges in November, but she isn’t allowed to substitute at Capital, per the conditions of her return, she said Wednesday.

Noble lost all of her jobs, including working full-time at Uncorked and Create and coaching swim and soccer teams, as a result of the now-dismissed criminal charges.

“Every job that I did, I worked four jobs every year, I lost everything,” Noble said.

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