A Stow-Munroe Falls band director who resigned amid accusations that he sent inappropriate texts to students is speaking out.
Stow-Munroe Falls School Superintendent Tom Bratten confirmed that the school board accepted the resignation of longtime band director Brian Monroe. The resignation followed a district investigation after three students reported that Monroe sent inappropriate texts to a student.
A Sept. 27 report provided by the district’s attorney at Roetzel & Andress, which was sent to the Ohio Department of Education Office of Professional Conduct, addressed text messages that included curse words, students’ personal information, and messages like “I love you,” and “I miss you.” In one text, the report states Monroe called a student a “horndog” and “hornball.”
Monroe, band director at Stow-Munroe Falls for 27 years, issued a rebuttal to the allegations, calling the accusations “false” and denied “constantly” sending text messages to any student.
“Many of the educators in the SMFCSD use text messaging as a form of communication between teachers and students,” stated Monroe in a written rebuttal to the Sept. 27 report. “While I did text message with a few students, I did so, with the understanding that many other teachers in the SMFCSD were also using this form of communication to communicate with their students. In fact, the District does not prohibit this form of communication with students, it only requires that the communication be directly related to curricular matters or with the approval of the principal.”
The report noted that nearly all the text messages reviewed “had no relationship to school/curricular or band issues.”
Monroe said he treats his students “as family” and stated he has made statements such as “I love you,” which he said he now understands it “could be misconstrued by a third party.”
“Some of the text messages I exchanged with students during the time period alleged centered around a particular student who other students reported to me was making dangerous and bad choices,” said Monroe in his rebuttal. “In an effort to prevent this student from going down the wrong path, I reached out to the guidance counselor for assistance and attempted to engage this student and his friends in conversations to gain their confidence so that they would feel comfortable reporting to me if this student were to make a bad choice.”
In the Sept. 27 report, one student stated “without a doubt, he [Mr. Monroe] crossed the line occasionally, making both me and my parents uneasy to say the least.”
The report also included allegations of inappropriate texts sent to students in 2011. A pair of assistant band directors addressed the concerns with the administration. According to the report, “the District attempted to investigate at the time, however, none of the students were willing to corroborate the allegations or concerns expressed by the assistant band directors.
In 2012, assistant band director approached the administration again with new concerns. Monroe was then “directed” to attend a meeting with several members of the administration and Labor-Relations Consultant with the Ohio Education Association. Monroe denied the allegations, but the report stated that there was “evidence of text messages that Mr. Monroe sent to that student, which evidence Mr. Monroe could not deny.” While the OEA consultant assured the administrators that he would counsel Monroe, there were reportedly no written records of the concerns submitted or the reported counseling. There were no further concerns reported regarding Monroe’s student interactions between 2012 and 2017, according to the report.
Monroe also stated after counselors suggested making students feel a sense of belonging after two reported suicides, he tried to be involved in the students’ lives to help prevent another tragedy.
“Some of the text messages I exchanged with students during the time period alleged centered around a particular student who other students reported to me was making dangerous and bad choices," stated Monroe.
After Monroe was placed on administrative leave during the investigation, comments were posted on social media by students and parents praising Monroe as the school’s band director.
“I am comforted by the messages I received from former students and parents who have thanked me for my years of service and the positive impact I have had on their students’ lives, a number have gone so far as to thank me for saving their lives,” said Monroe in his written rebuttal.
“I am very proud of my long career at SMFCSD and the band organization that we have built together with the students, directors, and community. I have enjoyed working with the students, staff, and community at SMF Schools. If I could not return to the SMFCSD, my hope was that my resignation would eliminate the distraction for the students and community so that they can continue to focus on the SMFCSD students’ education, which is and has always been my priority."