A Rochester Adams High School teacher was suspended on Monday, October 22, pending an investigation into alleged unprofessional conduct with a recent graduate.
Rochester Community Schools spokeswoman Lori Grein said Wednesday, October 23, that the district sent out a notice through its messaging system to parents to notify them of the suspension, and to encourage them to talk to their children about speaking up about any questionable behavior.
"We felt the entire district needed to have the information," she said. "It's a tenured teacher. He has been suspended pending completion of the investigation."
The district issued the following statement to parents from Rochester Schools Superintendent Robert Shaner: "A Rochester Adams High School teacher was suspended from duties pending the completion of an investigation of alleged unprofessional conduct with a recent graduate.
We are committed to providing a safe, positive and supportive learning environment for every student. District personnel are required to meet the highest standards of personal integrity, professionalism and performance. Employees whose conduct or performance falls short of expectations will be subject to disciplinary action.
The district will be completing an investigation and, as soon as reasonably possible, will be making a decision as to the status of the teacher. When there is an ongoing investigation, we can't publicly share details that could have a negative impact on the investigation.
All members of our school community have the right to experience an environment where they are safe, valued and respected. We appreciate your support to encourage your son or daughter to talk to a trusted adult if they see, hear or experience something that doesn't seem right. They can also anonymously report information using OK2Say at https://www.michigan.gov/ok2say/."
Grein declined to comment on the nature of the investigation, but said all parents should remind children about reporting inappropriate behavior.
"The point is that our parents, whether they have a son or daughter, need to talk to their child about the importance of them talking to a trusted adult if they see or hear something that isn't right," she said.
Grein said the district contacted the Oakland County Sheriff's Office in regard to the matter, which has launched its own investigation.
A sheriff's official confirmed reports that the investigation is in connection to an alleged relationship between the teacher and a former female student. However, the former student has apparently denied being “a victim,” and isn't fully cooperating.
Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton said while the age of consent in Michigan is 16 years old, sexual relationships between two people aren't considered consensual if one of the partners is in a position of power over the other, such as inmate-deputy relationship or a teacher-student relationship.
In 2012, Thomas Dennis Powell, 59, a former Rochester Adams assistant softball coach, was sentenced to jail for criminal sexual conduct after having a sexual relationship with two 17-year-old students. One of the victims in that case claimed she was in love with Powell and said at sentencing she would wait "each and every day until he gets out" of jail.