A week after an investigation was launched to look into inappropriate comments made about a teen girl, two more teachers have been placed on administrative leave from Rocky River High School. As of Tuesday at press time, that brings the total to six teachers suspended while police and school officials investigate a conversation inadvertently recorded at the end of a Zoom class in early March.
Rocky River Police Chief George Lichman believes there will be no criminal charges filed for the first four. West Life is still making inquiries on the two new suspensions.
“Things could change, but as it stands, this looks like the district will handle this internally,” Lichman said of the first investigation. “While the conversation was inappropriate, right now it does not look like anything criminal took place.”
The police investigation into the high school teachers did not reveal any evidence of illegal activity; no photos of students were found in phones and no discussion of students in text message threads were discovered, Lichman said.
However, the district notified parents via email Monday that the additional teachers were placed on leave amid their investigation.
Last week, district officials met behind closed doors with four of the teachers. The investigatory meetings were held March 17 and March 18 at the Board of Education offices.
During the meeting, the teachers in question were permitted to show evidence of their innocence. The teachers were allowed to bring representation and ask questions about the investigation also, Human Resources Director Samuel Gifford said in a letter sent to the teachers.
An executive session was held on March 17 to discuss the investigation also, Superintendent Michael Shoaf said.
The six teachers have been accused of violating several school and state policies, including professional behavior standards, relationships with students, breaking student confidentiality, and inappropriate use of technology. Criminal acts were not listed in the violations, according to the district.
The district’s investigation is ongoing. Shoaf believes an update about the investigation's findings could be sent to parents by the end of the month.
“As soon as we have something new to share, we’re going to share it,” Shoaf said. “We want to be as open as possible, so our parents are in the loop.”
A look into four initial teachers’ records reveals that each has been reviewed highly by their peers. Each teacher was described as skilled or accomplished in proficiency standards and student growth. One teacher was even praised for the positive environment created for students, according to the district.
West Life will not print the names of the accused unless formal charges are filed.
On March 10, an investigation was launched by Rocky River school officials and the Rocky River Police Department after a student’s mother alerted them to a conversation she said she overheard on Zoom. The class and the discussion afterward were recorded and posted to the district’s Google Classroom. A student discovered the conversation and alerted their mother. Soon after, high school officials received a flash drive containing the video and they called the police, according to the report.
The six teachers will not return to work until the end of the investigation.
The investigation comes after the high school earned one of the most prestigious awards in the country. The high school, responsible for 869 students, recently received the National Blue Ribbon Award from the United States Department of Education. It was recognized as an Exemplary High Performing School as one of the state’s highest-performing schools measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Rocky River was one of 16 schools recognized for the award in Ohio, according to the district.
West Life will continue to update this story on our website www.westlifenews.com as new developments are announced.
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