A former Bowsher High School dean of students accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student has dropped an appeal of his termination and agreed to no longer teach in Ohio.
Lewis W. Ackerman, 36, signed a consent agreement last week with the Ohio Board of Education, agreeing to not engage in any activities in Ohio that require an educator’s license, and to never again apply for such a license. Mr. Ackerman had also filed for binding arbitration to appeal a termination recommendation made by Toledo Public Schools administrators, but has since dropped that appeal.
The Toledo Board of Education last week formally terminated his employment.
According to TPS documents, Mr. Ackerman was alleged to be in a relationship with a student last school year, which he repeatedly denied. TPS records show, though, that he admitted to beginning a relationship with the student soon after she graduated.
Mr. Ackerman’s consent agreement serves as tacit admission to at least some inappropriate behavior, as the agreement stipulates that “[Mr. Ackerman] engaged in conduct unbecoming a licensed educator when he allegedly failed to maintain appropriate student/teacher boundaries.”
Attempts to reach Mr. Ackerman for comment were unsuccessful.
Mr. Ackerman was in charge of the school’s Behavior Intervention Center, which is a form of in-school suspension. He also coached Bowsher’s baseball and girls tennis teams and was serving as the acting dean of students at the school at the time of the allegations.
Talk that Mr. Ackerman and the student were in a relationship began during the school year, TPS documents show. Mr. Ackerman denied the accusations, but was warned to avoid contact with the student.
Mr. Ackerman asked the student out the day of graduation, later telling district management “that’s the way it’s done,” TPS documents show. The two went as a couple to a graduation party for a tennis team member several days later.
Toledo police were notified, but determined there was no evidence shown that Mr. Ackerman committed a crime, since there was no hard proof the relationship started before the student graduated.
Though Mr. Ackerman’s agreement with Ohio would not preclude him from applying for an educator’s license in other states, the agreement was sent to a national clearing house for educator certification and discipline.
“The licensing departments in all states are members of the clearing house, so they would see the consent agreement if they do their due diligence,” an Ohio Department of Education spokesman said.
While Mr. Ackerman’s case is now concluded, TPS will likely head to arbitration with another teacher that district leaders want to fire. The school board voted at its last meeting to terminate Steven R. Dickinson, 47, of Perrysburg, a physical education teacher at Harvard Elementary. Mr. Dickinson has faced repeated allegations of improper conduct during his TPS career, including that he used inappropriate physical discipline on students.
District chief of staff Brian Murphy said that Mr. Dickinson has filed for arbitration. His employment is technically terminated by the board’s action, and he will not be paid during his appeal, but arbitration is binding and he could get his job back if he wins.