6 Rocky River High School Teachers Step Down Amid Investigation

Rocky River High School building
The investigations by the Rocky River School District and Rocky River Police stemmed from a video showing two teachers talking about another teacher who claimed to have shared an inappropriate picture of a student.  [Gayle S. Putrich / ideastream]

Five Rocky River High School teachers have resigned and one more has retired amid investigations into their inappropriate conduct.

The investigations by both the Rocky River City School District and the Rocky River Police stemmed from a video showing two teachers talking about another teacher who claimed to have an inappropriate picture of a female student.  

While the school system’s initial investigation did not reveal sexually explicit photos of the female student, fully-clothed yet “inappropriate,” photographs of the student were found on the phone of one teachers, according to Rocky River Superintendent Michael Shoaf in a written public statement.

“The departure of these six staff members provides our school district with the swiftest route – without litigation – to provide 100% certainty that these individuals will not return to a Rocky River City School District classroom,” Shoaf said in the statement.

During the course of the school district’s investigation, Shoaf said a former student came forward and alleged “inappropriate communication and contact which occurred in the past.” That teacher also resigned.

In a Wednesday statement following the resignations and retirement, Rocky River Teachers Association President David Opdycke said “it is clear that no students were put at risk by either the private text chain or photograph taken.” 

“To be clear, the investigations into the video that was inadvertently recorded found that there were no sexually explicit pictures of students and no grounds for criminal charges. While there were photographs of a student on one phone of a teacher, those photographs were taken in a classroom setting to evidence that the student was not wearing a mask, and the photographs were not transmitted from one teacher to another,” Opdyke said. “However, due to the ongoing distraction this has all created in the Rocky River community, the two employees in the video and the employee they were discussing on camera have chosen to resign.

“Everyone needs to take a deep breath and realize that these teachers are leaving, not because of inappropriate pictures of a student passed around in a text chain, because that did not happen, but due to insensitive private communications and the media firestorm that made staying in Rocky River an untenable position,” Opdyke added.

Findings from the school district’s investigation will be shared with the Ohio Department of Education to ultimately determine if any action needs to be taken regarding the teaching licenses of those involved, Shoaf said in his statement.

Rocky River Police had closed the criminal case in late March but re-opened the investigation days later, citing “previously undisclosed information may exist that indicates evidence of criminal activity.”

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