For the second time in seven years, police investigate a relationship between a teacher and student at BHS

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Basalt High School

BASALT — For the second time in seven years, allegations have been made about an improper relationship between a member of the faculty at Basalt High School and a student.

A female teacher and coach reached a plea bargain in a criminal case involving improper sexual conduct in 2012. That teacher resigned.

Now, a different teacher is under investigation for “an allegation of a relationship between a teacher and a student,” Police Chief Greg Knott said Friday.

The police department received information about the alleged incident from the school district and an individual, Knott said.

“We received the information at the beginning of the school year,” he said.

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When asked if it was an allegation of one or more encounters, Knott replied, “That’s what we’re trying to determine.”

Once investigators compile all the information, they will consult with the District Attorney’s office about a possible charge, he said.

Knott wouldn’t identify the teacher because the case is under investigation. Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Rob Stein said he couldn’t discuss a personnel matter and wouldn’t name the teacher who is subject of a police investigation.

Stein said the Basalt High School choir director has been placed on leave. The choir director is Brittany von Stein. A timeline has been set to replace her if she is unable to meet the conditions necessary to return to her position, he said.

When asked what specific conditions need to be met, he replied, “We need to know that no district policies have been violated in a major way or, if even in a minor way, we’ll have to take a look at that.”

He wouldn’t discuss the nature of potential policy violation.

Von Stein’s absence has affected the morale of the music department because the kids started the year without their teacher, he said.

“The kids started the year with a substitute teacher,” he said.

The choir program has grown significantly since Von Stein was hired in 2015. It will be a priority to “keep that program running,” Stein said.

The school district released a statement to The Aspen Times that outlined its policy in cases of employees suspected of illegal activity.

“While we cannot disclose any details regarding personnel matters, whenever any allegations are made, we investigate and follow up appropriately,” the statement said. “Whenever we hear of allegations of criminal activity, we inform law enforcement and cooperate with their investigation.”

School district officials reported the alleged sexual misconduct a female teacher and coach at Basalt High School to law enforcement officials in February 2012. After an investigation by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, that teacher-coach was charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, pattern of abuse. She acknowledged she had a sexual affair with a student prior to his turning 18 years of age. The affair continued after he turned 18, which violated school district policy but wasn’t illegal.

The teacher resigned and reached a plea bargain in the case. She pleaded guilty to a felony charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to probation.

Stein said the 2012 case occurred before he was hired as superintendent, but he was aware of it. He was unaware of any other sexual misconduct cases against any other school district employees since that time.

Stein said he did not think Basalt High School required specific attention regarding proper conduct by teachers and coaches. The school district has policies for conduct in place for all of its 800-some employees at schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. The policies are regularly updated.

“We are constantly trying to stay current,” he said.

In a statement, the district said its Staff Conduct and Responsibilities “addresses professional boundaries with students in and outside of the classroom and that all staff are required to read and adhere to. All staff are required to sign annually a notice and agree to the following regarding sexual harassment and sexual misconduct: ‘The district is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment that is free from sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. It is a violation of policy for any staff to harass staff or students or for students to harass other students or staff through conduct or communication of a sexual nature. This applies to every school, department, as well as when students are involved in a school-sponsored or school-recognized activity off school grounds like a field trip or athletic event. It is also a violation of this policy to retaliate against anyone that reports sexual harassment or sexual misconduct or participates in any type of investigation.’”

Knott said it is undetermined at this time when information will be submitted to the District Attorney’s office for a decision on whether or not to pursue charges in this latest alleged incident.

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