Olentangy Local Schools Superintendent Mark Raiff has responded to a recent television news report critical of the district’s handling of a former teacher’s inappropriate behavior.
Raiff declined an interview with WBNS-TV for its series “Failure to Protect.” However, he did issue a video on the district’s website.
“A local TV station aired a story today (April 28) on state requirements for reporting teacher misconduct,” Raiff said. “This story refers to Olentangy and our former teacher.
“This former teacher worked very hard to get around the many safeguards we have in place to protect our students. Let me be clear, we received no prior complaints of a criminal nature about this teacher. When a complaint was brought to us by a parent, it was not of a criminal nature, but we immediately investigated, followed up with the parent and disciplined this former teacher. He hid his actions from us and is 100 percent responsible for what he did.
“Student safety is always the top priority at Olentangy Local Schools. That’s why we follow stringent reporting practices that go above and beyond what is required by state law. This includes immediate reporting to children services agencies, law enforcement, and the Ohio Department of Education. In addition, because the state process can be slow and cumbersome, we also take immediate action ourselves when we learn of a problem with a staff member. This allows us to act more quickly than other state agencies can.”
The former teacher is Matthew Rausenberg, who was convicted in January and sentenced to 106 years in prison on 34 counts of gross sexual imposition for molesting nine children at Arrowhead Elementary; along with kidnapping and pandering sexually oriented matter.
Three victims filed a lawsuit against Raiff and former Superintendent Wade Lucas, and Arrowhead principals Nadine Ross and Luke Carlisle III in April at Delaware County Common Pleas Court. The plaintiffs are seeking more than $25,000 in punitive damages and attorney fees. The negligence suit alleges sexual abuse took place for years, and a discipline report against Rausenberg in 2012 wasn’t handed to the Ohio Department of Education or another investigator.
In an interview on WBNS-TV on Wednesday, Raiff said it was easy to second-guess the decision not to hand over the discipline report. Going forward, though, Raiff said all discipline reports against teachers will be sent to state investigators.
Raiff was asked if students sitting on a teacher’s lap was deemed worthy of investigating, and he agreed, saying the context was important.
Staff Writer Glenn Battishill contributed to this report.