By Elise Franco
and Ashley Luthern
Two Mahoning County school districts are responding to allegations of inappropriate conduct by employees.
In Austintown, a Fitch High School employee resigned last month after inappropriate comments were made to a 16-year-old male student, two school officials confirmed.
In Boardman, Police Chief Jack Nichols confirmed Tuesday that a criminal investigation has begun into the conduct of a Boardman school employee who is now on leave. Nichols said the investigation is ongoing, and because of that he declined to discuss case details.
Boardman schools Superintendent Frank Lazzeri said the district had been conducting its own investigation into the allegations, but it was ended. Lazzeri had no further comment Tuesday, saying he was acting on the advice of the district’s attorney and prosecutors.
Austintown schools Superintendent Vincent Colaluca said a 55-year-old nonteaching employee, who worked in the district for seven years, sent a letter of resignation March 19. The resignation was accepted by the school board during Monday’s meeting.
The district learned of the allegations after the student filed a police report in Austintown on March 16, which said the male employee had made several comments that were sexual in nature starting in October 2011.
The man was accused of asking the boy if he watched pornography, and if he was sexually active. The comments were made in school hallways when no one else was present, the police report said. The student decided to file the report because, he said, the employee began asking if they could watch porn together.
Austintown Detective Sgt. Kathy Dina said the man won’t be charged criminally because a police investigation determined that the comments weren’t illegal. He didn’t proposition the teen to perform or take part in any physical sexual activity.
“What he did wasn’t a criminal matter,” she said. The “specific comments weren’t illegal, even if they were said to a minor.”
Colaluca said the school district began its own investigation as soon as the allegations were made. Colaluca said he and Fitch Principal Doug McGlynn met with the employee.
“Definitely things were said that were inappropriate,” Colaluca said.
McGlynn and Colaluca both said the incident was the first complaint against the employee in his seven years with the district.
“We take these types of situations very seriously,” Colaluca said. “He resigned before the district could take any further action.”