WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — On Monday night, school board members with Willoughby-Eastlake Schools voted to terminate Willoughby Middle School Principal Larry Keller.
According to the school board's website, Keller has worked within the Willoughby-Eastlake School District for 13 years. Earlier this year, the principal was placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation by the school district.
In his role as principal, Keller allegedly ignored parent concerns over student and teacher misconduct in two separate incidents, one involving a staff member engaging with students in gossip about another student.
"Mr. Keller has engaged in multiple acts of professional misconduct, including alleged instances involving incompetency, neglect of duty and dishonesty," stated the school district's resolution to dismiss Keller.
The resolution, signed by four board members, outlined the exact situation that led to Keller's paid leave and eventual termination.
"Mr. Keller failed to properly investigate an incident of a teacher's misconduct after a parent notified him in May of a recording taken of one of the teachers in his building. The teacher was heard gossiping about a student's religion and alleged inappropriate sexual conduct with other students," the resolution specifies. "The conversation involving the teacher included comments on students who vaped, flirted, had sexual relationships, and about a particular student who claimed to be religious but was engaging in perceived inappropriate conduct. The resolution stated the teacher laughed at times during the conversation and also actively participated in the inappropriate gossip."
Keller also allegedly denied any wrongdoing by the teacher during meetings with Schools Superintendent, Steve Thompson.
The resolution also cites a second incident in which Keller allegedly failed to properly investigate an incident of sexting, including nude photos being exchanged, between two students.
Thompson released the following statement to 3News late Tuesday evening:
"Throughout a five month investigation, the District worked carefully to seek guidance from legal counsel in order to protect the rights of all parties, including the students involved in the investigation. Once this had been completed, to include the use of an independent investigator, it was determined that the allegations were serious enough to warrant the consideration of employment termination. The reasons for this were given in the resolution voted on by the Board of Education on the evening of October 12, 2021.
It is paramount that young students --not always able to represent themselves-- be given the protection that they deserve when coming to school. As a district, we will do this to the greatest extent possible and continue to work with students and parents to address concerns as they arise. Willoughby-Eastlake understands that difficult decisions cannot circumvent the welfare of its students."
You can watch the full board meeting in which Keller's termination is discussed in the player below:
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