Second Washington High administrator leaving in wake of teacher-student sex scandal

Associate Principal Michael Johnson just became the school's athletic director

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Another top administrator at Washington High School is departing, Cedar Rapids school district officials announced Tuesday, a casualty of the teacher-student sex scandal that has been unfolding at the school.

Associate Principal and school Athletic Director Michael Johnson, 57, is retiring, a district spokeswoman said.

His departure comes a week after his boss, Ralph Plagman, 72, was asked by the district to leave and resigned after 35 years as principal.

In an earlier interview with The Gazette, substitute teacher Mary Beth Haglin named Johnson and Plagman as the school administrators who initially investigated her conduct in early February.

Haglin, 24, since has been charged with sexual exploitation in what Cedar Rapids police said was a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old Washington High student.

The initial school investigation lasted one day, Superintendent Brad Buck has said, and was not done according to district policy.

It determined rumors about Haglin and the student were unfounded.

On Feb. 3, about the same time that initial investigation took place, district officials announced Johnson would begin as Washington High’s athletic director starting this school year.

In an email Tuesday, district spokeswoman Marcia Hughes said Johnson’s retirement comes “in light of the facts compiled to date” in the district’s ongoing investigation of the situation at Washington High, and “in an effort to resolve the case so that the students and administrators involved, as well as the entire WHS community, can move past these events.”

Hughes continued: “The District and WHS Administrator Mike Johnson have reached an agreement in which Mr. Johnson will retire and not return for the 2016-2017 school year.”

Johnson, who could not be reached Tuesday afternoon for comment, was an associate principal at Washington High for 21 years and a faculty member for 26 years.

Hughes said the district plans to hire an interim athletic director. A search already is underway for an interim principal.

Haglin was removed May 17 from Washington High as a substitute after a second investigation.

But even so, her name was not scrubbed from a centralized substitute teacher database and so she was allowed to continue teaching in other schools for the rest of the school year.

District officials have said it was the responsibility of Human Resources Director Jill Cirivello to remove Haglin from the database.

Cirivello, 56, retired in late June, according to a separation agreement with the district.

District policy also was not followed during the investigations when Washington High administrators failed to involve designated investigators in their probes.

Those investigators are required by law to receive training on investigating “abuse of students by district employees.”

But even if they had been contacted, training records show all three investigators were years overdue for recertification.

Jeff Linder of The Gazette contributed to this report.

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