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Teacher, Under Investigation, Now ‘On Leave’

POTTSTOWN PA – The Pottsgrove School District announced Wednesday (Jan. 13, 2016) it was “cooperating” with what Lower Pottsgrove police later publicly confirmed as their investigation “regarding an allegation made against a (district) teacher.”

The teacher has been placed on administrative leave, according to Superintendent Shellie Feola. Police are said to be continuing their probe. As of Wednesday evening, no arrest linked to it had been reported.

No details about the allegation were available from, and no individual was identified by name or gender in, a brief 101-word message by Feola that was electronically delivered Wednesday afternoon to parents and other recipients.

Feola indicated her note was prompted primarily by “rumors circulating on social media about inappropriate behavior by a teacher.” The message was carefully worded, apparently to ensure the administration did not validate those rumors. They blazed for several hours across Facebook and other sites, and attracted dozens of commenters.

“We are cooperating with the police. Please know that we are legally bound in what we can and cannot say at this time,” Feola’s message implored. ” … we always take immediate action to protect student safety. We will continue to do all we can to make Pottsgrove School District the safest, most positive learning environment possible,” she added.

As of Thursday at 4 a.m., the message had not yet been posted for general public consumption on the district website.

The rumors came to light in Facebook posts before noon, when parents of Pottsgrove High School students said their children had reported news of action against a district employee for an unspecified “relationship.” Early readers demanded answers, and in their comments tagged district Board of School Directors’ President Rick Rabinowitz for a response.

Rabinowitz, a human relations professional, was cautious in his replies. He urged the public to avoid speculation and await an announcement. “As you can imagine, if there were a situation like this, there would be legal implications and the potential involvement of multiple stakeholders inside and outside of the district, adding complexity to any potential communications from inside of the district,” he wrote.

“No one hates speaking in riddles more than I do,” Rabinowitz added only minutes later, “so let me just ask that everyone stay patient and please let’s avoid giving voice to rumors that may or may not be true. As soon as it is appropriate to speak to these rumors, it will be done.”

Some commenters claimed their students had reported news of an incident to them as early as Monday (Jan. 11). During the school board’s Tuesday (June 12) night meeting, Rabinowitz said directors had conducted an executive session dealing with “personnel” in the previous week (Thursday, Jan. 7), but he made no reference to its purpose or discussion and there was no indication it dealt with the current allegation.

Board discussions of some legal and personnel matters are allowed by state law in closed-door meetings, not attended by the public, under certain circumstances.

Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Jan. 12 meeting):

Graphic from Google Images

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