By Chris Pugh and Matt Echelberry – [email protected]
A former Galion City Schools teacher recently had his teaching license suspended.
John S. Williams, 43, listed with a Mount Vernon address, entered into a consent agreement with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) on Feb. 18. His license was suspended and he was prohibited from performing any educational activities, coaching or other duties. As part of the agreement, he cannot reapply for a teaching license.
Williams was hired as a science teacher at Galion High School in July 2013. Before that, he had been a teacher at Wilmington City Schools since 2006.
The allegations surfaced during the summer of 2014, after Williams had already been employed at Galion for a year.
Det. Robert Wilson of the Wilmington Police Department said the allegations centered around whether Williams had a physical relationship with several students during their time at Wilmington High School. Wilmington police investigated the allegations. Although Wilson said Williams dated the students after graduation, there was no evidence of physical contact while they were students at Wilmington High School and police were “unable to get enough evidence to file criminal charges.”
Wilson said one of the students was still living with Williams at the time of the investigation.
“I was called by a parent with the possible concerns in early September (2013), a month and a half after he left here,” Wilmington Superintendent Ron Sexton said. “We immediately contacted Wilmington Police Department and Office of Professional Conduct with the allegations.”
Sexton said no formal complaints were filed against Williams by any student or staff member and no disciplinary action was taken against him.
The Ohio Department of Education subsequently conducted its own investigation. Department officials could not confirm when the investigation started, but explained that they received an investigation referral, and after looking into the claims they reached an agreement with Williams without holding an official hearing.
Galion Superintendent Mark Stefanik said he did not know state officials had started or completed an investigation.
“They never communicated anything to me. I still have not received anything, which is surprising,” he said on Wednesday. “I did have contact with the Wilmington School District when the allegations were made. I notified the (Galion) high school principal, the school board and the school’s attorney, and we monitored the situation. At that point we had to wait for due process to take place.”
Williams went on extended leave on Sept. 18, 2014, and remained on leave until he resigned on Nov. 17. Stefanik said Williams did not give a reason for his resignation.
ODE officials said reasons for a teacher’s license suspension are confidential. However, state law gives it the authority to suspend or revoke a teaching license for: Engaging in an immoral act, incompetence, negligence or conduct that is unbecoming to the applicant’s or person’s position; or a plea or conviction of a felony or a violent, theft or drug abuse offense, or a violation of an ordinance of a municipal corporation that is substantively comparable to an offense listed above.
One section of the agreement stated: “Respondent denies any and all allegations that he engaged in conduct unbecoming to the teaching profession.”
Stefanik noted that the Galion administration had no disciplinary problems with or complaints about Williams while he was employed by the district. He also said the district does have a policy in place prohibiting teachers from having any type of relationship with a student.
Chris Pugh can be reached at 419-468-1117, extension 2050 and you can connect with him on Twitter @PughCivitas. Matt Echelberry can be reached at 419-468-1117, extension 2049. Connect with him on Twitter @MattTheInquirer.