Editor’s Note: The video above is previous coverage at this story.
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WJW) – A prosecutor has fired back at the Rocky River City School District for withholding records as police investigate teachers and talk of an explicit photo of a female student.
In a new court filing, Rocky River Prosecutor Michael O’Shea wrote, “…the District has been conducting its own ‘independent’ quasi-criminal investigation…and for the time being refuses to share the findings.”
He added, “…there in fact may be evidence of a ‘felony’.”
Several teachers at Rocky River High have been on leave since mid-March due to the investigation.
No one has been charged.
Thursday, the FOX 8 I-Team uncovered a push to block police from gathering evidence in their investigation into teachers at Rocky River High.
Police there are taking another look into a conversation caught on camera about an explicit picture of a female student taken by a teacher.
Police first looked at text messages. They did not find a picture of a teen. Then, they reopened the case.
Court documents show lawyers for the teachers and the district want a judge to prevent police from gathering certain records from the schools.
In a court filing Thursday, a lawyer for the teachers argued police are going too far since the investigation centers around “private text messages” and “private cell phones”.
Meantime, a filing by School District lawyers says the District is “legally prohibited” from giving out information from a public employee in an internal investigation.
Yet, the Prosecutor told the Court, the filings to block the records “…make the rather incredible statement ‘there is no crime’…” But, “The very essence of the subpoenas is to locate the truth – i.e. was there commission of a felony.”
This comes after police asked the School District for any documents and pictures related to the case. Plus, any recorded interviews, notes, internal emails, personnel files and even contracts for the companies providing internet and cell phone service for the schools.
Thursday, parents rallied outside District headquarters demanding to know more and be involved.
While the filings to prevent release of the records referred to Civil court proceedings, the Prosecutor repeatedly noted this is a “criminal investigation.”
A camera used for online learning captured the video that sparked the investigation.
Two teachers discussed a photo of a student another teacher said he had taken and sent. One teacher on the recording talked about the student’s attractiveness.
And, he asked, “I’m thinking, is he taking pictures of her in class?
He added, “It’s not on my phone. And I double-checked to make sure there was nothing on my phone.”
So far no one has seen any picture, but police also did not seize phones and computers to go through them fully during their initial investigation.
A Rocky River judge gave the lawyers a week to sort out who will give up what records, or she will hold a hearing.
In his filing, the Prosecutor wrote, “The City is certainly willing to have all of the subpoenaed individuals come with the documents and testify live under oath.”