2 Tri County teachers resign amid computer investigation

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 6:17 pm on Friday, April 04, 2014

HOWARD CITY — Two Tri County High School teachers resigned in the midst of a school investigation regarding alleged inappropriate computer usage.

Tri County Area Schools Superintendent Al Cumings confirmed Maureen Baker and Jeff Ells resigned in January. School officials had been investigating Baker and Ells since last October.

“Once they resigned, we closed the investigation,” Cumings said. “There were no criminal charges.”

Cumings emphasized that the alleged misconduct did not involve any students.

Baker and Ells were escorted from the high school last October and placed on paid administrative leave after another school employee alleged that there may have been some inappropriate usage on some of the school computers.

Baker had been an English teacher at the high school for about 20 years. She gave the commencement address at Tri County’s graduation ceremony in May 2010. Ells had been a science teacher at the high school for about 14 years.

Cumings sent a letter home to parents last October 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.

Certified substitute teachers have been filling the positions of Baker and Ells since they resigned, according to Cumings.

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