Editor’s note: Ashley Murray did not respond to a request for comment for this story. The story has been updated to include Murray’s response via comments on Cape Gazette’s Facebook page. The Cape Gazette published all submitted letters to the editor in favor of Murray’s candidacy.
Despite a signed admission that she violated Delaware Code and nursing board regulations by stealing narcotics from patients, Ashley Murray remains a candidate for the Cape school board election, set for Tuesday, May 11.
While she was a registered nurse working for Delaware Hospice under her maiden name, Ashley C. Wyatt, Murray’s license was suspended in 2010 for three years.
A Delaware Board of Nursing order dated Sept. 8, 2010 listed Murray’s violations of Delaware Code “in that she is unfit and incompetent to practice nursing by reason of her addiction to narcotics,” “she habitually uses and is addicted to the use of habit-forming drugs” and that she violated Board of Nursing regulations.
According to an agreement signed by Murray, she admitted that while working as a Delaware Hospice nurse, she took oxycodone from three of her patients at least 10 times and that she was addicted to narcotics.
The order stated she was guilty of unprofessional conduct and violated board rules by taking drugs from patients for her own use, and that she failed to take action to safeguard patients from “incompetent, unethical and illegal health care practice.”
In June 2012, she petitioned the board to have her license reinstated, stating she had completed all suspension conditions. She was placed on probation for two years, with the stipulation that she not perform clinical practice for the first 12 months and not distribute medicine during the probationary period.
Minutes for the Sept. 11, 2013 Delaware Board of Nursing meeting state that Murray’s license was reinstated in February 2013, that she said she could not find a job due to restrictions placed on her license, and that she asked the board to reconsider the clinical restriction. The board voted to keep the current consent agreement in effect. Murray’s license expired in September 2015.
Enclosed in a filing packet given to candidates by the Department of Elections is a filing form, on which candidates swear that they “have not been convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, perjury or other infamous crime.”
Election officials could not be reached for response as to whether Murray’s admitted violations of Delaware Code, theft and use of the stolen drugs disqualify her as a candidate.
According to the Delaware Department of Elections website, school board candidates must be U.S. and Delaware citizens who live in the school district for which they are seeking election. They must be over age 18, cannot be a paid employee of the district, and must never have been convicted of embezzlement.
In comments on the Cape Gazette Facebook page, Murray said the following:
“The cape gazette waited until the day before the election to expose my past substance abuse issues related to post partum depression. This personal struggle occurred a decade ago and the charges against me were voluntarily dismissed by the prosecution.
Proposed bill could change candidate rules
A recently introduced bill could change qualifications for school board members.
Delaware Senate Bill 78, introduced March 4, with a substitute to the bill introduced April 27, would amend Delaware Code by requiring prospective board members to undergo a background check and requiring the elections commissioner to determine a person does not have any disqualifying convictions before they can be a candidate.
The bill would also require the suspension of a school board member who is charged with a crime that would disqualify them from holding the position if convicted.
Disqualifying conditions are similar to those that would cause an educator to lose their license or certificate, and would not apply to current school board members until the expiration of the member’s current term, unless the member is charged with a disqualifying crime while serving, the bill states.