ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — The investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct by teachers at Rocky River High School has shifted into a legal battle between the school district and the police department.
According to documents shared with 3News by Rocky River Assistant Law Director Michael J. O'Shea, police have issued subpoenas to the school district for investigative material, personnel files of the teachers in question, video/audio or transcripts of any interviews with the teachers, plus emails from the district about the investigation.
However, the Rocky River School District and teachers union have filed a motion to quash the subpoenas, citing legal precedent that forbids them from providing information from an employee during an administrative investigation. The city is countering by saying that there may be evidence of felony in the case, including possible obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence.
O’Shea tells 3News that oral arguments in the case may take place via Zoom on Friday, but an evidentiary hearing in Rocky River Municipal Court will likely be continued to a later date.
It was one week ago when the Rocky River Police Department announced that they were reopening its investigation into the case, citing previously undisclosed information may exist that indicates evidence of criminal activity.
"The safety of members of the Rocky River community is our highest priority. Students deserve an educational environment that is conducive to learning, free of harassment and intimidation," the department wrote in its release. "Rocky River Police will continue to investigate all leads and evidence concerning this case as it develops."
Officials had been looking into a filmed video conversation between two teachers, who were discussing an alleged sexually explicit photo of a female student taken by one of their staff colleagues. One of the two in the video accused the suspect of sending him the picture via text, although he claimed he didn't receive or see it because he had the number blocked on his phone.
Last month, Rocky River police leaders had determined there was "insufficient evidence" to charge anyone involved in the incident. In addition, "No evidence of photos of students or inappropriate discussions about students were contained in the text message thread among the teachers."
In a 51-page report, the department explained the alleged inappropriate picture sent in the teachers' group text was not of a student, but was a "spoofed picture of June Cleaver with her dress pulled up exposing her vagina."
3News has obtained a copy of the video in question which police reports indicate was recorded by accident by the teachers who were still in the classroom where a virtual class had just taken place. In the video, one teacher refers to the student (whose name has been redacted) as "smoking hot" and "really freaking put together," but both teachers condemned the staff member who attempted to send the image via text message. The staff member the teachers were referring to was not in the classroom with them.
"I'm not above being a pervert, but I'm not going there, I can tell you that," one of the teachers in the video said before further claiming he lied and told the sender he received the pic in order to avoid revealing he had blocked his number.
In total, the Rocky River school district placed six staff members on leave after the allegations came to light. The administrative investigation is ongoing.
The below video aired on March 30, 2021
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