Solon police are continuing an investigation this week into alleged improper conduct by a former Solon City School District teacher against students. No one has been charged with a crime.
Solon Police Lt. Jamey Hofmann said last week that an investigation by the detective bureau that began in early June is linked to an inquiry requested by the school district during the 2017-2018 academic year.
“We were asked to do an investigation a couple years ago by the schools,” he said. There was an “unwilling complainant,” a former student, who did not want to talk to police, Lt. Hofmann said.
At that time, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Richard Neff found, based on the evidence given by police through their investigation, that there was no criminal activity, Lt. Hofmann said.
Last month, the matter resurfaced. Lt. Hofmann said police became aware of an incident of possible improper conduct through a post on social media and an investigation resumed.
“We have been interviewing victims, and it is ongoing,” Lt. Hofmann said. He was unable to provide additional comments on either the past or current investigation.
Solon school Communication Director Tamara Strom issued a statement last week on behalf of the district. “We take the safety and well-being of all our students — past and present – very seriously.
“The district always adheres to its legal and ethical responsibilities to fully investigate all allegations and report findings to the proper state and local authorities as appropriate,” Ms. Strom continued. “We are unable to speak to an ongoing police investigation.
“At the same time, we encourage anyone with material information to contact the Solon Police Department,” Ms. Strom stated.
In early June, a message was sent by the district to Solon families citing that the school system had been made aware of new allegations of inappropriate contact between a former teacher and student.
“These allegations are deeply troubling,” the statement from the school district read. “School should be a safe space and we take seriously our responsibility to students’ physical and emotional wellbeing.
“Teachers and educators hold position of trust with their students,” it read.
The statement went on to explain that the district became aware of additional allegations involving the same former teacher. “The district intends to speak to the individuals concerning these allegations, including written statements that could be placed in the former teacher’s personnel file if those individuals so request.”
School district officials indicated that they will assist these individuals in making contact with the Ohio Department of Education, if they believe they have information that would be relevant to any ongoing investigation, as well as the Solon Police Department.
The statement indicated that, two years ago, when this issue arose, the district promptly investigated the allegations and fulfilled its responsibilities by reporting to the proper state and local authorities.
“These reports are confidential,” the statement read. “During the investigation, the teacher was removed from the classroom and direct contact with students. The action taken at that time were solely focused on ensuring student safety.”
The school district in the statement pledged to continue to work with and connect former students who bring these matters to their attention to the proper authorities.
Students can call police at 440-337-1465 or utilize the Safe School Helpline at 800-418-6423, ext. 359 or text TIPS to 66746. This service has been in place for more than a decade to promote school safety and provide students, parents and staff members the opportunity to report inappropriate legal activity.
“The district is committed to promptly investigating complaints and taking appropriate responsive action based on the outcome of those investigations,” the June statement read.