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Documents surface claiming teacher misconduct

Posted at 8:32 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 20:32:38-04

ESTERO, Fla. -- Newly discovered documents reveal claims of inappropriate conduct by a Lee County teacher.

The allegations were reported at Estero High School in May of 2017, after which the teacher resigned. It wasn't until Summer 2018 that the teacher lost their teaching certification. 4 In Your Corner is not naming the teacher because he is not charged with a crime.

The documents are public record from the Department of Education. They state what a 16-year-old said happened to her throughout the 2016-2017 school year. She said her teacher made sexual advances at her, offering to "raise her grade from an 89 to 90 if she showed him her breasts." The student also alleges he asked her to send him naked photos.

The Lee County School District immediately launched an investigation and got the Lee County Sheriff's Office and DCF involved following the allegations. A district spokesperson said a few days after the allegations surfaced, the teacher resigned, so the school district closed its case.

Parents were never notified about the allegations. A district spokesperson tells 4 In Your Corner since the teacher was no longer a district employee, the matter was out of their hands.

"Once the allegations were reported we notified the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, DCF and the Florida Department of Education. In situations like this we defer to the investigatory agencies so as not to interfere in a potentially criminal case. Once the employee resigned we no longer had any authority over them and forwarded all the information we had to the investigating agencies," said Rob Spicker with the Lee County School District.

Although the allegations were reported in 2017, the Florida Department of Education did not revoke the teacher's license until finalizing a settlement in the summer of 2018. In the settlement, the teacher neither admitted nor denied the claims. At that point, the DOE stopped investigating as well. 

"An administrative complaint alleges violation of statute and rule. When a settlement is reached, it is exactly as the agreement states, the person neither admits nor denies. We do not proceed to further prove the alleged violations. Educators have the opportunity to select their avenue of appeal by either disputing the allegation and proceeding to the Division of Administrative Hearings (with this selection we would proceed to an evidentiary hearing), admitting to the allegation to the Education Practices Commission, surrendering their certificate for permanent revocation, or attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement with the department," said Audrey Walden with the FDOE. 

The FDOE adds there is no statewide policy on how to handle abuse allegations in school.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office will not confirm or deny whether there is an active criminal investigation surrounding this teacher.