Monday, Jul 23, 2018
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Education

Washington Local teacher under investigation resigns

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    Whitmer High School.

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    Michael Punsalan

Whitmer High School social studies teacher Michael Punsalan has resigned his teaching post amid an investigation into his communication with students.

In an educator misconduct reporting form dated Monday, Jane Spurgeon, interim human resources director for Washington Local Schools, indicated Mr. Punsalan “engaged or may have engaged in conduct unbecoming of the teaching profession.”

“Concerns were raised regarding Mr. Punsalan’s interactions and communications with students and the amount of communications with one or more students,” she wrote in an attached statement.

RELATED: Washington Local teacher placed on leave | State records show second Whitmer teacher under investigation

Mr. Punsalans’ letter of resignation, effective Aug. 2, was dated Friday. In it, he said he was resigning for “personal reasons.”

“It has been a privilege to serve the students and families of the Washington Local School District,” he wrote.

At a meeting on Monday night, Washington Local school board members approved the resignation.

Mr. Punsalan, 41, of Sylvania was placed on paid administrative leave effective May 11, just three weeks before the district’s last day of school.

At that time, he was barred from district property and directed not to destroy any written or electronic communication he has had with students. It was the first time he had been disciplined since joining the district, according to his personnel file.

Mr. Punsalan came to Washington Local as a social studies teacher at Whitmer High in 2009. He has served as the social studies club adviser and produced athletic commercials for the district.

“This board takes concerns related to student well-being very seriously,” Thomas Ilstrup, president of the school board, said during Monday night’s board meeting.

He said an investigation was initiated as soon as questions about Mr. Punsalan’s behavior came to light.

After the meeting, he added that the allegations against Mr. Punsalan were “credible,” but that because there is no criminal charge law enforcement has not gotten involved.

The district expects to conclude an investigation into Mr. Punsalan’s actions by the end of the month, Mr. Ilstrup said. 

Mr. Punsalan did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Punsalan is not the only Whitmer teacher to face scrutiny in recent weeks. In late May, the Ohio Department of Education subpoenaed district officials and ordered them to turn over all investigative and disciplinary records related to social studies teacher Aaron Wolfe.

In a letter dated May 30 obtained by The Blade through a public records request, the state agency also ordered the district to produce names and contact information for the parents of students involved in a district investigation of Mr. Wolfe, as well as “an unredacted copy of any witness statements pertaining to” the teacher.

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