Sexual harassment accusations against a high school math teacher have been confirmed following a school district investigation.
John Fowler, who initially was accused of making inappropriate comments to female students, has been issued a formal letter of reprimand and reassigned from Baker School to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
“Based on the totality of testimonies and statements, there is sufficient corroborating evidence that Respondent John Fowler has violated: School Board Equal Opportunity & Treatment (Equity) policy regarding sexual harassment (and) the Code of Ethics and The Principles of Professional Conduct of The Education Profession in Florida,” school district investigator Arden Farley wrote in the final report.
Fowler, who had taught at Baker for 16 years, has denied the allegations.
Baker administrators began looking into Fowler after two parents accused him last September of making inappropriate comments to their daughters.
As the inquiry got under way, more allegations were made and the school district was contacted to launch a formal investigation.
In one of the reported incidents, a female student said when she walked past Fowler in the hallway he smiled and said, “Those jeans make you have really nice legs,” the report stated.
His words made her “feel really uncomfortable,” she said.
When asked about it, Fowler denied the incident.
“I may have told a student that their dress looks professional or sharp. No, I did not make a comment on her legs,” Fowler said. “That would be completely out of my character.”
In a subsequent interview, he said he didn’t recall it happening at all.
Farley ultimately determined a particular accusation had some merit, but he could only partially confirm it because there were no witnesses.
Through conversations with students, parents and predominantly female staff, Farley confirmed or partially confirm allegations of sexual harassment by 15 students and 13 adults over 16 years.
The instances included sexually suggestive comments to staff and conversations with students about his sexual experiences.
One student described Fowler’s behavior as “kind of creepy,” according to report.
When given the opportunity to contest the report, neither Fowler nor any other people involved decided to appeal the findings.However, Fowler did make a couple of requests.
After saying he “could no longer be an effective teacher at Baker,” Fowler asked to be moved to another school.
He also asked for additional training about sexual harassment and professional conduct.
The school district granted his requests even as he was cautioned that any more violations of professional conduct “will result in a recommendation for termination.”
The report will be sent to Florida’s Professional Practice Office for review or further action.
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