ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WJW) — A judge has ruled the Rocky River City School District does not have to give police records of interviews the district did during an internal investigation into teachers sparked by talk of an explicit picture of a student.
The Rocky River prosecutor subpoenaed records from the district as part of a police investigation. The prosecutor wanted records of the district’s interviews with teachers.
Then, the district and a lawyer for the teachers both went to court to “quash” or block the prosecutor from getting the records.
Now, Rocky River Judge Donna Congeni Fitzsimmons ruled the prosecutor will not get those records.
In a ruling issued Friday, the judge wrote, the district made the teachers give statements and give up their cellphones and screenshots “under threat of discipline up to and including termination.”
The court also pointed out the district had the teachers sign forms before the interviews noting, “Any statements made by you during today’s investigatory meeting will not be used against you in a subsequent criminal proceeding.”
In March, the I-Team revealed an explosive recording tied to investigations into six teachers at the high school. Two teachers captured on camera discussed another teacher claiming to have an explicit photo of a student possibly taken in class.
Five teachers resigned and one retired in the midst of internal and criminal investigations.
No explicit photo of a student has ever been found. But, the district later said an “inappropriate” photo of a student was found on one teacher’s phone.
Police initially did a criminal investigation and found no evidence of a crime although they did not do a full, forensic examination of any phones.
Then, they reopened the investigation, and that led to the subpoena for the district records.
In one court filing, the prosecutor wrote he was seeking evidence of “tampering with evidence” and “obstruction”.
But now, again, the judge has blocked investigators from the records.
We have reached out to the Rocky River Prosecutor to see if he will appeal the ruling and to find out what this means for the criminal investigation.