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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 21, 2017

Sex in school costs Iowa science teacher his job

Nov 14, 2013

DES MOINES (AP) — A judge has denied unemployment benefits to a former eastern Iowa science teacher who was caught having sex with a colleague in a classroom closet.

Robert L. Brown, of West Branch, was forced to resign from his job with the Columbus Community School District in November 2012, the Des Moines Register reported.

Brown filed for unemployment benefits, saying the encounters took place on his personal time during lunch and after classes. Administrative Law Judge Lynette Donner rejected his request, citing his “willful” workplace misconduct. The ruling became public earlier this year.

Columbus Community School District Superintendent Marlene Johnson told the newspaper this week that she couldn’t discuss the matter.

High school officials first heard students gossiping about Brown and a female staff member during the 2011-12 school year, according to records from the case.

At a public hearing on Brown’s request for unemployment benefits earlier this year, Johnson testified Brown was asked about the rumors. She said the school principal expressed concern that Brown and the female worker had become too close, but Brown allegedly assured the principal that he and his colleague were just friends.

Johnson testified that school officials heard more rumors at the start of the 2012 academic year. She said officials heard complaints that Brown and the woman went into a closet while a student was in the classroom.

“Students knew what they were doing and were talking about it,” Johnson testified. “People were complaining, you know, that he would cover his (classroom) window up at the noon hour and then those two would be in there together and then they would come out.”

Johnson said she had surveillance cameras placed in various locations around the school, including one inside the classroom closet.

She said one of the videos showed Brown and the female colleague entering the closet at two separate times over the course of a single school day — once during the lunch period and once shortly after classes ended for the day.

“It shows their faces, it shows them taking their clothes off, it shows them having sex, it shows, you know, everything,” Johnson testified.

Johnson testified she showed the video to Brown, gave him the option of resigning or being fired. He chose to resign, she said. She didn’t say what action, if any, was taken against the woman.

Brown’s attorney, Gerald Hammond, argued that Brown never neglected his teaching duties or ignored his contractual obligations to the district.

When asked why he didn’t disclose the relationship to the school principal, Brown testified, “I did not feel that it was his business.”

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