CHICKASHA, Okla. (AP) — Four faculty members of a central Oklahoma school district have been suspended amid an investigation into alleged abuse and embezzlement within the district.

Chickasha Public Schools suspended Athletic Director Yohance Brown, Assistant Superintendent of Transportation and Maintenance Pete Bush, Special Services Director Pam Huggins and administrative assistant Stacy Crutchfield last week.

The district's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, says the district is conducting "an independent investigation" of the allegations.

The suspended employees' attorney, Woody Glass, wrote that Interim Superintendent Cindy Schmidt "failed to provide any information to support such a drastic action on behalf of the district" when she notified the employees of their suspensions. Glass said the allegations should be proven by credible and believable evidence.

Glass also said the allegations seemed to be a retaliation move after the employees expressed criticism of a learning center.

"As you know, retaliation for engaging in protected activity is strictly prohibited by many well-established legal principles," Glass said. "The only common denominator permeating throughout those individuals subjected to the suspension is their vocal protest and concern related to the Student Personalized Learning Center."

Hundreds of people attended a recent school board meeting in support of the suspended employees. Students and teachers discussed their interactions with them and expressed their disbelief in the accusations.