K-12 Education

Cedar Rapids school district concludes teacher-student sex scandal investigation

District issues official statement; read it here

The Cedar Rapids Community School District's Educational Leadership and Support Center (ELSC) in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Apr. 3, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The Cedar Rapids Community School District's Educational Leadership and Support Center (ELSC) in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Apr. 3, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids school district has concluded its investigation of events related to Washington High substitute teacher Mary Beth Haglin, district officials announced Tuesday.

Since Haglin’s July 22 arrest on a charge of sexual exploitation of a student, two longtime Washington High administrators — Principal Ralph Plagman and former Associate Principal and Athletic Director Mike Johnson — have retired abruptly. The district’s human resources director, Jill Cirivello, has also left her position.

Here is the text of the district’s statement:

The Cedar Rapids Community School District has concluded its investigation into the events related to Mary Beth Haglin’s inappropriate relationship with a student during the spring 2016 semester at Washington High School. Under Iowa’s public records laws, the District is required to keep its investigation, and certain student information and personnel information confidential. However, the District can summarize and state as follows:

The District conducted numerous interviews and reviewed notes, electronic mail, and other documents as part of its investigation. Regarding the February, 2016 investigation, one administrator has announced to the media that he chose to believe the wrong people. However, the February 2016 investigation at Washington High School was not an effective investigation consistent with the training administrators take over the course of their careers with the District through Grant Wood AEA or the training the District’s legal counsel provided for administrators in September 2015. Furthermore, the administrators who investigated in February 2016, did not make any inquiries about the type of investigation to conduct nor reported their investigation to any leader at the District’s offices at the time it was occurring.

Effective investigation techniques consistent with the training administrators take through Grant Wood AEA or provided by the District’s legal counsel in September 2015 were not followed again in April 2016.

Finally, typical and customary practices and procedures to remove a substitute teacher, not only from a building, but from the District’s substitute teacher list with Grant Wood AEA were not followed in May 2016.

The evidence during the investigation led the District to take appropriate personnel actions upon the review and advice of both general District legal counsel and appointed legal counsel. These personnel actions also respected the desire for continued confidentiality for the student and his family and the students and staff directly impacted by the investigation. These personnel actions also balanced the desire for closure for the Washington High School community of students, parents, and staff members since the 2016-2017 school year was imminent and the many years of service provided by the separating employees.


As a result of these findings, the District identified and announced areas of improvement at its August 8, 2016 Board of Education meeting.


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