Kings Local School Board releases records in teacher investigation

KINGS MILL, Ohio - The Kings school district released records of depositions taken in an investigation of a teacher's treatment of children in a multiple-handicapped classroom.

The action is in response to a lawsuit filed by Kim Grant, who claimed a teacher abused students then left the district on favorable terms. Grant said the abuse was "brushed under the rug" by the district.

Grant describes herself as a "citizen watchdog" of school district activities and is a member of of COAST, the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes. 

The suit demanded the district turn over its records on the case.

Superintendent Valerie Browning told the school board the attorney-client privilege protects some of the records, and that providing them would violate the privacy of students.
The Kings school board, however, voted Tuesday night to release the records to avoid a costly lawsuit, according to a release issued by Dawn Gould, community relations coordinator of the Kings Local School District.

The initial investigation began in October 2011 at Columbia Elementary after a teacher's aide reported allegations of inappropriate behavior in discipline of students in a multiple-handicapped classroom.

Both the teacher in question and a second classroom aide were interviewed by the principal, but the allegations made by the first teacher's aide were not consistent with the second aide's statements, according to the release.

The district said the teacher had filed a report of discipline challenges with the principal. In response, the principal gave the teacher an improvement plan, but months passed without any further incidents.

The first aide then resigned because of concerns over the same teacher's teaching style in the classroom. That's when the teacher was place on administrative leave while a thorough investigation was conducted by the district and police.

Upon investigation, the Warren County Sheriff's Office found no grounds to press criminal charges against the teacher.

The district also filed a report with the Office of Professional Conduct, which after 16 months of an ongoing investigation, has not taken any action.

The district, however, said it did discover "classroom practices" that were in violation of the school's policy. The school did not specify what those practices were at this time.

"Some of the teacher's actions reflected poor decision making and are not reflective of our mission to provide a positive learning environment and build positive relationships with students," said district officials in a release.

As a result, the district and the teacher reached an agreement in March 2012 for the teacher to resign once her contract expires.

The school said the teacher has not returned to the classroom and was place on administrative leave since the beginning of the investigation in March 2012.

The release stated district officials "met with parents of the children in her classroom and will be vigilant about the protection of our students' identities.  The children in this MH classroom have had a new teacher in their classroom for the past 16 months and we continue to ensure they have a safe, nurturing, and positive environment to learn and grow."

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