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Published: Saturday, 2/14/2004

Teacher suspended in sex inquiry

BY SANDRA SVOBODA AND CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

A first-year Libbey High School teacher has been suspended with pay after a 17-year-old female student said they had sexual intercourse in a classroom, school officials said.

Richard Wisbon, 38, of Holland has taught vocational education and woodshop at Libbey since September, district records show.

The district suspended him Monday after learning of the allegation, Superintendent Eugene Sanders said yesterday.

The student said she and Mr. Wisbon had sexual intercourse Feb. 6 in the woodshop classroom during a school pep assembly, Dr. Sanders said.

“Based on my understanding, it was consensual. But she became emotionally torn after it happened and told another female student at Libbey,” he said.

The friend then told her mother, who called a coach at the school, Dr. Sanders said.

“The coach made the teacher aware of it, and the teacher went to the principal,” Dr. Sanders said. “The teacher is denying the allegation.”

Mr. Wisbon did not return a telephone call yesterday.

Dr. Sanders said the district is investigating the matter and has reported the allegation to Lucas County Children Services.

“This is an isolated incident. We want to protect the interest of the students, and certainly provide due process rights for the teacher,” Dr. Sanders said. “He is innocent until proven guilty.”

A report of the alleged incident was filed Tuesday with Toledo police, who are investigating. Police declined comment yesterday.

Mr. Wisbon last month was recommended by the district s intern program for continued employment with Toledo Public Schools after his first semester. The program evaluates and recommends the renewal of first-year teachers, said Dr. Sheila Austin, the district s chief of staff.

David Preslan, Mr. Wisbon s intern consultant - a teacher who observed, evaluated, and recommended to the intern board of review his continued employment - declined comment yesterday.

But in a written evaluation, he wrote: “Rick, you have a nice rapport with the students. I feel that you can make a big difference in their lives and future careers. However, try not to become buddies with your students. Keep a professional relationship with them. If you don t, the students will try to take advantage of you.”

District records show Mr. Wisbon is paid $36,227 annually. The Start High School graduate had no prior teaching experience; however, he held a variety of construction industry jobs, according to the records.



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