CHS art teacher escorted from school, resigns amid allegation of giving students “inappropriate materials”

Thursday, May 5, 2022
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A Columbus High School art teacher was escorted from the school grounds last week and is no longer employed by the district following allegations that he gave students “inappropriate” materials.

The teacher, who was not named by the school on the advice of counsel, is also being investigated by the Columbus Police Department.

Columbus Police Chief Gary Timm said that the department was informed last Thursday, April 28, of an incident involving students being given an “art” book to view. School staff reported it to police and as of Tuesday, multiple students had been interviewed.

The official call for service from the Stillwater County Sheriff Dispatch log lists the call as “Investigation of reported obscenity.”

Timm also said that “the department cannot name him unless he is charged, and at this point the incident is still under investigation.”

Columbus School Superintendent Jeff Bermes confirmed that on Wednesday, April 27, he placed the teacher on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into “allegations of inappropriate material being given to students.”

Bermes also said that at that time, he could not offer any further information except that “the teacher is no longer employed with the district” because he had resigned at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 28.

On Tuesday, May 2, Bermes sent the following message to all parents on the district’s app:

“On Wednesday, April 27, the District was made aware of a situation that occurred at the end of the day on Tuesday, April 26, in an art class with the use of inappropriate and unapproved content material provided to a select number of students. The material was that of a book of drawings. No other inappropriate matter has been discovered.

The teacher was immediately placed on administrative leave and had no contact with students after the incident. The teacher is no longer employed by the District. Pending the final report of an independent investigation, all information will be turned over to law enforcement and the Office of Public Instruction. The district is taking all steps to make sure that this situation is handled properly and that your students are safe.”

Bermes told the News this week that parents were not notified until this week because he was not “at liberty to provide information regarding the case to protect individual rights. Once those matters were handled the district was able to provide a statement of the incident which was this morning.”

Bermes also stated the district had to be sure that the incident report was accurate before moving forward.

Bermes did say the art teacher was a in his first year at the school.