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Published: Thursday, 10/9/2008

2 teachers quit their jobs at Whitmer

BY JAMES JOYCE III
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Washington Local Board of Education unanimously accepted the resignations of two Whitmer High teachers at an emergency board meeting last night after a three-week investigation into possible inappropriate contact with former students.

The teachers - John Shook, 36, and Mathew Brueggemann, 30 - were social studies teachers at the high school. Their resignations took effect yesterday.

After the board's meeting, which for a time was conducted in a closed-door executive session, district officials released a statement providing some details of the district's investigation of the teachers.

The officials would not comment further or answer questions about the board's decision.

The investigation was launched after former Whitmer students made accusations of misconduct by the two teachers.

According to the statement issued by Nancy Brenton, the district's director of human resources, investigators found that Mr. Shook:•Provided alcohol to underage former students after graduation.

•Communicated with former students during work hours.

•Had sexual contact with former students after they graduated.

•Engaged in possible "grooming" behaviors with those students while they were still attending high school to make them favorable to future advances.

The former students also claimed that Mr. Brueggemann provided alcohol to two former underage students after they graduated, the statement said.

The accusations, according to the statement, followed a three-day suspension for Mr. Brueggemann in 2006 for:

•Allowing a student to visit him in his home where the two of them were alone.

•Providing transportation in his private vehicle on at least two occasions without parental permission.

•Providing personal details to a student regarding his marital separation.

He was suspended in 2007 - that time for five days - for disregarding an administrative directive to avoid contact with certain students and allowing at least some of those students to keep their personal belongings in his desk, according to the statement and Mr. Brueggemann's personnel file.

Mr. Shook, who had been with the district since the 1996-97 school year, was paid $57,065. He also coached freshman and junior high football.

Mr. Brueggemann, who started with the district in the 2002-03 school year, was paid $47,447. He coached freshman baseball and previously coached girls' junior varsity basketball, freshman football, and junior high track.

Both teachers were placed on paid administrative leave after the district began its investigation on Sept. 17.

They were told Sept. 30 that the district intended to pursue terminating them for cause.

Yesterday, both teachers submitted their resignations, pre-empting the district superintendent's recommendation to move forward with their terminations.

The school district will forward a report of the misconduct accusations to the Ohio Department of Education in compliance with state law, the statement said.

Contact James Joyce III at:

jjoyce@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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