Butler County teacher accused of inappropriately touching students resigns

One parent says he feels “defeated” about the outcome.
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 9:19 PM EDT
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OXFORD, Ohio (WXIX) - The Talawanda School Board on Thursday accepted the resignation of a teacher accused of touching two students inappropriately.

Dustin Lema, the father of one of the students, is upset the teacher wasn’t terminated.

We are not naming the teacher because police have not charged him, though Oxford PD confirms an ongoing investigation that began when the allegations first came to light last year.

The teacher was placed on paid administrative leave in December 2021 after a student reported him for unprofessional behavior. School administrators called police for a report that the teacher had touched a student under 13.

A month later, Lema, frustrated with the pace of the Title IX investigation, gave FOX19 the specifics—that the teacher had allegedly placed his hand on the girl’s shoulder and then slid it down to her breast.

“This is why girls don’t come forward,” he said at the time. “They’re afraid of not being believed.”

Weeks later, more allegations surfaced after FOX19 obtained the district’s letter notifying the teacher of his leave status. We learned the teacher had been warned of multiple prior incidents involving alleged inappropriate behavior.

The parent of another alleged victim told us the district didn’t follow up on the accusations. “It was very frustrating,” she said.

The district’s investigation concluded in May. It uncovered three separate female students who accused the teacher of touching them inappropriately and saying inappropriate things to them that made them feel uncomfortable. Two accusers’ claims were substantiated by enough evidence to warrant a finding of sexual harassment, according to the documents.

Investigators said the teacher appeared to exhibit a pattern of conduct that indicated he has “boundary issues” with female students.

Now Lema says he feels “defeated” about the outcome.

“It’s gut-wrenching to know we’ve done all that we could do and he’s still being allowed to resign,” Lema said Thursday. “We don’t think it’s fair.”

The school board issued a statement that reads in part:

“The teacher filed an appeal of the decision maker’s decision. A different attorney reviewed the evidence on appeal and upheld the first decision maker’s decision. Following receipt of the appellate decision, the teacher submitted a resignation, which the board of education approved this evening.”

Talawanda School District Superintendent Ed Theroux explains only the Department of Education’s Ethics Commission can take the teacher’s license away. The Ethics Commission is investigating, Theroux confirms, but he says it could take months.

“He doesn’t deserve to be a teacher any longer,” Lema said. “He doesn’t have the right to resign.”

Lema confides being “nervous” for other kids he says could be victimized by the teacher in the future. And more, he fears other kids could endure the bullying he says his daughter experienced after the incident, for which she’s now in therapy.

“But, this whole thing has taken a toll on her emotionally,” he said. “At one point, she became suicidal.”

The district wouldn’t comment further than the statement they gave us.

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