Lakota teacher resigns after allegations of relationship with graduate, principal says

WEST CHESTER TWP. — A teacher at Lakota West High School has resigned after allegations of a relationship with a former student after the student graduated, said the school’s principal.

The school launched an investigation into those allegations because the relationship may be in violation of the state’s professional conduct code.

According to a message sent Wednesday to school families from Lakota West Principal Ben Brown, the teacher resigned Wednesday. Brown states in his message the teacher “will not be returning to a Lakota classroom.”

The allegations were reported to the Ohio Dept. of Education.

“Information was brought to the attention of Lakota the summer after the student’s graduation, but the investigation at that time found no evidence to support those allegations, including no allegation of wrongdoing by the graduate’s family,” said Brown.

“However, due to more recent information that conflicted with the initial investigation, another investigation was initiated,” and that resulted in the resignation.

“While this is a personnel matter and we are unable to discuss more details, we can confirm that the district has no evidence that the alleged relationship took place when the graduate was still a student or a minor.

“Furthermore, at no time have there been any other allegations involving other Lakota West students or graduates. Regardless, this behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at Lakota,” he wrote.

Brown wrote “the district (Lakota) has also notified law enforcement for their review of the matter.”

The Journal-News contacted West Chester Twp. Spokeswoman Barb Wilson regarding any investigation of the allegations but was told there were “no records that are responsive to your request.”

Lakota Interim Superintendent Robb Vogelmann declined to comment.

A message sent via a social media account of the teacher seeking comments elicited no immediate response.

“When our students enter our schools, there should be no question that they are safe,” stated Brown.

“Teachers can and should be mentors to our students, but there are boundaries that should never be crossed. We expect that our staff conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times and any time there is a question of safety or misconduct, we will investigate,” wrote Brown.

According to the Ohio code of professional conduct for teachers, it includes prohibition against: “Soliciting, encouraging, engaging or consummating an inappropriate relationship with any student, minor, or individual who was a student in the preceding 12 months.”

“When an educator is reported to the Ohio Department of Education for an allegation of unprofessional conduct made by a principal, parent, teacher, student, superintendent or community member, the department will determine whether the State Board of Education has jurisdiction to investigate the matter pursuant to ... the Ohio Revised Code.”

“If it is determined an investigation is warranted, a thorough investigation would be conducted pursuant to ... the Ohio Revised Code, at which time all mitigating circumstances will be fully examined to determine whether the allegation can be substantiated.”

Brown said the school is working to find a long-term substitute for the teacher’s role, and finish out the school year “with as little disruption as possible.”

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