School chief wants teacher out of SD2

2008-07-16T23:00:00Z School chief wants teacher out of SD2DIANE COCHRAN Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
July 16, 2008 11:00 pm  • 

If a teacher accused of having sex with a student does not lose or forfeit his license by the time school begins next month, officials will take action to remove him from the district payroll.

Senior High teacher Stacey Rambold should not remain an employee of Billings School District 2 for another school year, Superintendent Jack Copps said on Wednesday.

"Obviously, this individual won't be teaching in the district," Copps said.

On paid leave

Rambold was placed on administrative leave with pay in April after allegations surfaced that he had sex with a ninth-grade girl.

An investigation by a retired school administrator later determined it was "more likely than not" that the monthslong sexual relationship took place.

The "more likely than not" standard is a benchmark used by SD2 to determine whether educators should be disciplined. It is a lower standard than would be needed for criminal prosecution.

A separate police investigation into Rambold is ongoing.

Rambold could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Earlier this month, SD2 trustees forwarded the district investigation to the Montana Board of Public Education and asked that body to revoke Rambold's license.

But this week a representative for the state board said that it will not consider whether to hear the Rambold case until its next meeting in September.

The board decided not to rush the case onto its July meeting agenda, said its executive secretary, Steve Meloy.

'Do this correctly'

"They want to be very sure we do this correctly so his due process isn't violated," Meloy said. "It's sort of uncharted ground."

It is unusual for a school board to ask the state to revoke a teaching license before local action has been taken against the teacher.

Copps asked trustees to send the matter directly to the state hoping to prevent Rambold from teaching again anywhere. Theoretically, a teacher whose license is revoked in Montana cannot be licensed as an educator in other states.

On Wednesday, Copps said he would send the Montana Board of Public Education a letter explaining why SD2 forwarded on the Rambold case without taking action itself and ask the state board to handle the matter before school starts.

"We are going to write (Meloy) back and ask him to expedite the matter," Copps said.

But if the state board declines to hear the case in the next month, Copps said he will ask SD2 trustees to suspend or terminate Rambold.

"I believe we have sufficient evidence to justify a termination hearing," he said. "It is my intention that he will not remain on paid administrative leave."

Rambold, who taught business and technology at Senior, was accused of engaging in oral sex with a freshman girl on multiple occasions during the 2007-08 school year.

The alleged encounters took place on and off school grounds during and after school hours.

The allegations came to light after the girl told a church counselor that she'd had "an affair" with a teacher.

It was the third time Rambold had been accused of inappropriate behavior involving students.

He began teaching in SD2 in 2004.

Contact Diane Cochran at dcochran@billingsgazette.com or 657-1287.

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