2 Tri County teachers placed on leave amid computer investigation

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 12:00 pm on Friday, October 18, 2013

HOWARD CITY — Two Tri County High School teachers have been placed on leave amid an internal investigation regarding possible inappropriate computer usage.

Maureen Baker and Jeff Ells were escorted from the high school on Thursday and placed on paid administrative leave, confirmed Tri County Area Schools Superintendent Al Cumings.

“They were not arrested,” Cumings emphasized. “It is an internal investigation. It was brought to us by another employee who had information that there may have been some inappropriate usage on some of the school computers.

“There are no students involved in this,” Cumings added.

Police are not involved in the investigation at this time.

Baker has been an English teacher at the high school for about 20 years, according to Cumings. She gave the commencement address at Tri County’s graduation ceremony in May 2010.

Ells has been a science teacher at the high school for about 14 years, according to Cumings.

They will remain on paid administrative leave until the investigation is completed.

Cumings sent a letter home to parents on Thursday informing them of the situation.

“As superintendent, I seek to keep you up-to-date on issues related to our district,” the letter stated. “As is our practice, I wanted to inform you about a recent personnel matter. It does not appear the situation involves any students.

“Over the last several days, we became aware of possibly inappropriate use of district technology by two high school teachers. In response to these and other concerns, and according to our policies, these individuals have been placed on paid administrative leave to allow us an opportunity to review the situation.

“As you know, our first priority is to provide a quality education for our students. To that end, during this investigation, we will be placing qualified substitute teachers in the classroom. I would ask if you have any concerns related to the classroom that you feel free to contact the High School Principal Tim Goheen at (231) 937-4338.

“When situations like these arise, in an era of social media, it is human nature to want to discuss them. However, we know that speculation and rumors are not helpful or fair to the individuals involved or the investigative process.

“I continue to appreciate the strong partnership between the district and our parents and community. As always, we will continue to communicate with you on a regular basis. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office or your building principal should you have concerns or questions,” the letter concluded.

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