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Teacher resigns in wake of probe

Published: Wed, October 8, 2008 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Denise Dick

A teacher shouldn’t text message ‘back and forth’ with a student, Boardman’s superintendent said.

BOARDMAN — A second-year Boardman High School teacher has resigned amid an investigation of a female student’s allegation of inappropriate text messages from him.

The girl, 17, told a teacher Sept. 23 that she was uncomfortable with text messages she had received from Scott Hunter, a math teacher at the school where the girl is a student. The teacher told the high school principal, and Hunter was immediately placed on paid administrative leave, said Superintendent Frank Lazzeri, and an internal investigation began.

Hunter tendered his resignation Sept. 30, citing personal reasons, the superintendent said.

Last week, the girl filed a police report regarding the messages. She told police that she and a former teacher, whom she knew before attending high school, had text messaged each other for a while without incident.

On Sept. 18, however, a text from the teacher asked the girl if she liked peanut butter, the police report said.

A follow-up message read, “So how about we play with that together? Could rub it all over you ...,” the girl told police.

She said she ignored the text because she felt uncomfortable, and the texts returned to normal. She tried to end the text conversation that night by sending, “Sweet dreams.”

He texted back, “I’ll have some dirty ones of you and I. LOL. Hope you do too. Night babe,” the police report said.

The teacher’s name is redacted from the police report, but the superintendent acknowledged that the girl who filed it is the same one who informed the district about texts from Hunter.

The school district also had notified police.

Police said the matter is under investigation.

The district isn’t aware of text messages between Hunter and any other students, Lazzeri said.

“The [school district] investigation determined there was no inappropriate relationship between the two [Hunter and the girl],” Lazzeri said. “It was just inappropriate text messages. A teacher shouldn’t be texting back and forth with a student.”

Brad Calhoun, president of the union representing Boardman teachers, declined to comment Tuesday about Hunter or his resignation.

Hunter, of Boardman, a 2007 graduate of Youngstown State University, was in his second year of teaching and also served as the school’s Quiz Bowl adviser. His salary this year was $33,721.

The teacher’s personnel file doesn’t list his birthdate, but Lazzeri believes Hunter is in his early 20s.

Hunter couldn’t be reached.

Lazzeri said Hunter is an “excellent teacher” who was popular among students.

The licensure code of professional conduct for Ohio educators adopted last March by the state board of education says that “educators shall maintain a professional relationship with all students at all times both in and out of the classroom.”

It also lists “using technology to promote inappropriate communications with students” as conduct unbecoming an educator.

Because Hunter resigned as a result of an investigation, the school district must notify the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct. Lazzeri said he is in the process of doing that.

Karla Warren, an ODE spokeswoman, wouldn’t comment on the specific case. In general, though, when ODE is notified about a teacher dismissal or resignation during an investigation, the department determines whether to conduct its own investigation, she said.

If ODE determines that a violation has occurred, the most severe penalty that could be imposed is permanent revocation of a teaching certificate, Warren noted.

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