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Maryland education board upholds teacher's termination

The Maryland State Board of Education has upheld the 2011 termination of a teacher by a county school board. The board initially fired the popular teacher for repeated misconduct and insubordination after he reportedly failed to stop inappropriately interacting with students. The teacher argued that this constituted wrongful termination, characterizing himself as "the innocent victim of a witch hunt." The MSBE ultimately dismissed the teacher's claims and supported his termination after "a careful fair review of the facts."

According to the MSBE's findings, the teacher received at least seven written warnings for "inappropriate" conduct with students and was transferred to different schools several times during a 17 year period. Administrators contend that the teacher repeatedly ignored these warnings, accusing him of inappropriate touching and massaging male students, asking them to remove their shirts and to sit on his lap and meeting with them privately in violation of school regulations.

The teacher was never targeted by allegations of sexual abuse and none of his reported offenses were deemed illegal. One complaint eventually led police to interview several of the teacher's students, but they chose not to file criminal charges against him. However, several administrators claim to have reprimanded the teacher for his actions, warning him that failing to cease "further inappropriate activity" would likely result in his termination or other disciplinary measures. In 2000, the teacher was prohibited from participating in afterschool clubs and was barred from involvement with student bodybuilding activities.

When the teacher was again accused of inappropriately touching a student in 2010, the county school board agreed to recommendations that he be fired. An administrative law judge issued a report regarding the teacher, finding that his conduct "was reckless, brazen, unjustified, and most important, of grave potential harm to his students."

Following the decision, the state education board urged school districts to review their personnel records to ensure that faculty who ignore repeated warnings are not allowed to retain their positions, as well as asking schools to review their policies regarding inappropriate student-staff interaction.

Source: Bethesda Magazine, "State Board Upholds Firing of MCPS Teacher," Julie Rasicot, Sept. 28, 2012

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