Talawanda teacher accused of misconduct permitted to resign

Ohio board will conduct its own investigation for possible disciplinary action.

OXFORD – A Talawanda Middle School teacher accused of improper treatment of a student was allowed to resign following two investigations which found by a preponderance of the evidence the teacher had engaged in misconduct in violation of district policy.

The resignation of business teacher Paul Stiver was accepted by action of the board of education July 7, seemingly ending the issue but a criminal investigation is continuing and a report has been made to the Ohio Department of Education, which will now conduct its own investigation to determine if the teacher’s license should be suspended or revoked.

The father of the student involved in the initial complaint pleaded with the board to not allow the teacher to resign, saying his job should be terminated.

“Please, please, please, please I implore you, do not let this man get off so easily,” the father said.

The board proceeded with the agenda approving the resignation on a 5-0 vote, but Superintendent Ed Theroux later offered a lengthy explanation of the investigation procedure required under Title IX. Various factors accounted for the time elapsed between the filing of the original complaint and the resignation action. Theroux released a timeline and statement about the process, which has been posted on the district’s Web site.

“Talawanda School District followed all procedures required to conduct an investigation, including timelines established within the Title IX federal law,” the superintendent said. “The administration placed the teacher on paid administrative leave during this investigation. The police were contacted and they opened their own investigation, which is still open at this point in time.”

He explained the initial complaint was filed in December and, later, two additional complaints were filed by former district students against the same teacher. The investigation was then amended to include those two additional complaints and consolidated into one investigation.

Theroux explained the Title IX process was changed and made more involved during the Trump Administration which contributed to the time it took to complete the investigation. During that time, no statements are permitted to be given under those rules, so the board and administration were not permitted to respond to public comments about the process or the case.

As superintendent, he said he is designated as the “mandated reporter” who was required to make the report to the police department as well as to the Ohio Department of Education once the investigation was completed.

“The Title IX decision was made by an outside attorney who was not the Talawanda Board of Education’s attorney.” Theroux said. “In two of the three complaints, the decision maker found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the teacher engaged in misconduct in violation of Talawanda School Board policy. The teacher filed an appeal of the decision maker’s decision. A different attorney (also not the district’s attorney) reviewed the evidence on appeal and upheld the first decision maker’s decision. Following receipt of the appellate decision, the teacher submitted a resignation which the Board of Education approved this evening.”

He continued by saying he had made the report to the Ohio board which will now conduct its own investigation into possible disciplinary action into the now-former teacher’s teaching license.

While the victim’s father claimed allowing the teacher to resign would allow him to move to another district or state and get a job teaching, Theroux said that was unlikely. If asked in the hiring process about the reason for his resignation, lying about it would be an offense and a district doing its due diligence would uncover the truth.

“The report of this matter to ODE has been placed in this individual’s personnel file, as required by law. The Superintendent also has provided evidence gathered in this investigation to the police. It is important to remember that as a district, all school board policies, as well as state and federal law were followed to the letter,” the superintendent said in the statement and timeline provided and posted online.

He noted the police have a higher standard to meet than the district in potential penalty actions and said the board does not have the authority to remove the teacher’s pension because the pension program has the individual’s money involved.

Since the Title IX program changes went into effect, Theroux said the district began the process last summer.

“We started the process a year ago. We did not understand the ramifications until it came up,” he said at the board’s meeting.

He expanded on those procedures in the timeline statement.

“Attorneys were also involved throughout the process, which at times lengthened the time in completing this process. It is critical to be thorough in matters of this nature. The Superintendent of Schools has provided information at many school board meetings explaining that while Title IX is not new, there have been recent changes to the law and how investigations, timelines and processes must now be followed,” the statement said. “In order to clear up any confusion and disinformation, it is important to share this process, the work conducted and completed, and what will happen in the future in regard to this case and investigations that fall under the Title IX federal law and TSD school board policies.”

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