Education

License suspended for Alburnett teacher investigated for 'inappropriate relationship'

Adam Macke was a first-year English teacher at Alburnett High School in 2017

(Gazette file photo)
(Gazette file photo)

The teaching license of an Alburnett High School teacher who left after being accused of having an “inappropriate relationship” with a student has been suspended.

The Board of Educational Examiners indefinitely suspended Adam Macke’s license for at least three years, according to a December decision made public last week.

Macke, 34, was a first-year English teacher at the northern Linn County high school during the 2017-18 school year.

The board determined Macke encouraged an inappropriate relationship with a female student at the school, though a Linn County Sheriff’s Office investigation concluded the relationship was not physical. No criminal charges were filed.

In its ruling, the board wrote that Macke’s actions qualified as student abuse under Iowa Administrative Code, which includes “soliciting, encouraging or consummating a romantic or otherwise inappropriate relationship with a student.”

Both Macke and the student told investigators their relationship — which included a 105-minute phone conversation, extensive time alone together in Macke’s classroom and discussion of their romantic feelings for each other — “transgressed the boundaries of a professional teacher/student relationship.”

According to testimony detailed in the board’s decision, Macke responded to his student’s romantic interest in him by reciprocating her feelings but telling her they needed to refrain from physical intimacy so he could keep his job. He did not tell anyone at the school about the conversation.

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“Macke demonstrated a remarkable lack of insight into the situation,” according to the final board order, “commending himself at hearing and in his written statement for maintaining a close relationship with (the student) even after she revealed her romantic feelings for him.”

In an email included in testimony, Macke told Superintendent Danielle Trimble, after her and Principal Ken Kasper’s investigation concluded, that he had vowed to himself to support the student and admitted they communicated “much more than what somebody would consider appropriate when looking at the situation objectively.”

The district investigation of Macke was conducted in December 2017 and referred to law enforcement.

The district placed Macke on administrative leave at the conclusion of the internal investigation, and Macke later resigned.

To reinstate his teaching license, Macke would need to apply to the board and demonstrate “the basis for suspension of his license no longer exists,” according to the decision.

He also would need to undergo a mental health evaluation, which would include an assessment of his ability to maintain appropriate boundaries with students, and 15 hours of in-person educator ethics courses offered by Professional Educators of Iowa.

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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