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Reaction pours in as Rocky River schools continues internal investigation into 6 teachers

Video reveals new details
Rocky River High School
Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-27 18:01:49-04

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — A video of two Rocky River High School teachers discussing another teacher who was alleged to have texted them an inappropriate photo of a student sparked a criminal and internal district investigation.

One of the teachers in the video had the Owl camera on, which records everything and puts it on Google classroom.

“I didn’t want to reveal that I blocked his texts,” said one teacher. “It did concern me but I thought, ‘well it’s not on my phone' and I double checked to make sure there was nothing on my phone.”

One teacher goes on to ask about the student and, in response, the other teacher comments on her appearance.

“She’s not much of a student, nice enough girl, really freaking, yeah, put together.”

Both teachers go on to say they didn’t see the picture, but are overheard talking about how this could affect their reputation.

“I’m just avoiding him like the plague,” said the teacher. “It would be a terrible way for us to end our career, a perp walk," said the other teacher.

A Rocky River Police investigation found the photo in question was not of a student, but of a T.V. character June Cleaver exposing herself. The police department did not pursue criminal charges.

According to court documents, students revealed in police interviews that the teacher in question frequently Snapchats with students and said “it was known that students would email selfie pictures of themselves from parties to [the teacher] and he would show them and would say that whether or not the students looked high or drunk.”

The school district’s policy states:

Staff members shall only engage in electronic communication with students via District-provided staff and student e-mail accounts and District-provided tools such as the District Google Apps for Education account when such communication is directly related to curricular matters or co-curricular/extracurricular events or activities. Any other communication with any other online tools must have prior approval of the Director of Communications and Organizational Development.

Superintendent Michael Shoaf and Assistant Superintendent Liz Anderson released a video statement.

“I’m disgusted. I’m shocked, and as the father of a teenage daughter in this district, I’m angry,” said Shoaf.

In total, six teachers have been placed on administrative leave.

“What was stated by these staff members was not only inappropriate and unprofessional, it was offensive,” said Shoaf.

Anderson said it’s an obligation of teachers to report situations where a student's well-being is at risk.

“If the safety of a student is in question, it’s the professional and ethical obligation of our staff members to report that situation to the proper individuals,” she said.

News 5 spoke to a former student of the teacher the other instructors are discussing in the video.

“It is way too close to home, also knowing that I had been around them. It almost feels violating,” she said.

She said the teachers in the video should’ve reported the situation immediately.

“If you felt the need to even question it, then you know that it's not right,” she said. “The kids shouldn't have to worry about being looked at in that way and I just feel like it was handled in a very careless way.”

The Rocky River Teachers Association President David Opdycke released this statement:

As President of the Rocky River Teachers Association, I am committed to making sure the investigation is fair and the facts, not rumors or allegations, are used to guide the District response. I am glad that the criminal investigation is over and that the police determined that no inappropriate pictures were taken or texted. The internal investigation will continue and I know that all the teachers involved look forward to responding to the allegations. I hope everyone involved will allow the investigation to proceed without undermining the integrity of the process with prejudicial statements to the community. Please have faith in the investigation and the people involved. Everyone's priority is to protect and serve the interests of the students of Rocky River City Schools.

RELATED: No charges to be filed against Rocky River High School teachers, school investigation continues