Linn-Mar Responds to Sexual Misconduct Charges

posted by WMT News/KCRG i9 - 

MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- UPDATE:The Linn-Mar School District sent this statement Monday evening in response to TV9's story about a teacher who allegedly inappropriately touched at least one student:

The Linn-Mar Community School District is aware of allegations involving a former staff member. Our first priority is to provide students with a safe and positive learning environment, and we take all allegations of inappropriate conduct seriously.

When information was brought to our attention, it was investigated and addressed as appropriate including contacting the police department and reporting to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

We are subject to privacy laws that limit disclosure of information to the public, however, we welcome any investigation by any authorized agency to review this matter.____The Linn-Mar School District might face a state or federal investigation. Last week an I9 investigation revealed a middle school teacher had faced documented complaints and allegations of sexual misconduct. The district allowed him to resign, instead of firing him, allowing him to keep his state teaching license.

After I9 released our findings last week we also sent them along to several state and federal agencies along with many of Iowa's elected leaders. Our question to them was what if anything they think should be done.

Our report detailed three years of student complaints against Robert Ortiz for social media comments, leering at female students and touching the butt of one student. That is on top of one student's allegation Ortiz sexually assaulted her two years ago.

The Iowa Department of Education said school districts are required to report sexual abuse allegations to the Board of Educational Examiners, the state agency that regulates teaching licenses in the state. They added if they were to receive a complaint, "regarding a school district's failure" to follow state policies they would investigate.

It turns out that a complaint may not be far away. Republican House Representative Ashley Hinson of Marion tells I9 that she and her Republican house colleague Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls will be formally requesting both agencies investigate Linn-Mar schools soon.

"The allegations have been made, and the history, and the track record is there, and so I think from that perspective it is on us to go to the BOEE and say 'hey you need to take a look at this and make sure that things are being done as they're supposed to be being done'," said Hinson.

Democratic Representative Art Stead told I9 in statement that he too is asking both the Board and the the Department of Education to investigate.

Governor Kim Reynolds's office had this to say, "If the allegations are accurate, we would expect a complaint to be filed with Iowa Board of Educational Examiners seeking disciplinary action."

I9 reached out to the BOEE for comment but were told all complaints are confidential unless it finds probable cause for action.

Senators Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, along with Congressmen Rod Blum and Dave Loebsack have all said they've been in touch with the U.S. Department of Education concerning our investigation and have asked them to look into it.

I9 also again asked Linn-Mar administration for comment after our story aired but we have yet to hear back.

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