- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A West Central band teacher resigned from his previous job after he was reprimanded for committing an act of “moral turpitude or gross immorality.”

That’s all the information available to parents; additional details are kept secret by the state and school officials, the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/1QGxRot ) reported.

Daniel Eye was working in Parkston public schools in 2008 when a complaint was filed with the state’s ethics commission for teachers. There is no public record of the incident on the state’s online teacher database, though Eye disclosed it when he applied, said Jeff Danielsen, West Central superintendent.

“Mr. Eye was very open with us about the situation,” Danielsen said. “We felt assured that our kids were not in any sort of danger.”

A lack of transparency in South Dakota means parents and the public are forced to take school officials at their word when it comes to teachers’ pasts.

Parents in South Dakota can search for teacher credentials using the state’s Teacher 411 website, but information is limited. It does not include the case details behind each revocation or suspension, and some, less severe records have been wiped clean.

The inconsistencies surfaced following a national investigation by the USA TODAY NETWORK, which found fundamental flaws in the systems used to report and track teacher misconduct. Even after losing a license, teachers across the United States have been able to escape notice and find work in classrooms.

Eye did not respond to a request for comment. But he’s not the only teacher with a disciplinary record that is still working in South Dakota schools.

In response to a request from USA TODAY, South Dakota education officials submitted the names of eight teachers who had their license revoked or suspended, and one who had received a reprimand from the state ethics commission. Their response did not include dozens of other cases previously reported by Argus Leader Media. That’s because older records are only available on paper, not digitally, said Mary Stadick Smith, a spokeswoman for the Education Department.

In Iowa and Nebraska, cases are outlined on state websites with details behind each penalty, whether it was a revocation, a suspended license or a reprimand.

Parents in South Dakota don’t have an easy way to find this kind of information unless the teacher winds up in court or makes headlines. Poor mandatory reporting laws in South Dakota allow local schools to sweep noncriminal misconduct under the rug, without reporting to the state’s ethics commissions for educators.

There are two such commissions in the state: one for teachers and one for administrators.

These commissions respond to complaints and recommend action to state education officials. But record of the punishments aren’t always easy to find.

Some appear on the state’s Teacher 411 website. It’s an easy way for parents to see if a teacher’s license has been revoked or is currently suspended, though the record-keeping isn’t perfect.

Teacher 411 does not show the reasons explaining why a teacher’s certification was revoked. And it does not show whether or not a teacher has received a public reprimand.

Meanwhile, Nebraska parents can easily find a list of teachers who have been disciplined, with facts about each case. The website for the Nebraska Professional Practices Commission shows names and information for teachers such as Sheryll McDougall, who had her license revoked for having a sexual relationship with a former student.

Similarly, Iowa parents can search for any disciplinary action against teachers going back to 1974, accessing detailed case documents through the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners’ website.

But making information public can also be harmful to victims in some cases, said Tim Graf, superintendent of Milbank School District. Graf was the superintendent in Wilmot public schools when a teacher there lost her license for having sexual contact with a 16-year-old student.

“In small communities, everybody knows who these kids are,” Graf said. “There’s parts of things that need to be kept confidential to protect the actual victims.”

Argus Leader Media has uncovered 36 cases of misconduct by teachers or administrators since 2008, including complaints filed after the USA TODAY records request.

At least three of these teachers are listed as employees on school district websites.

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Tonya Marie Drueppel, a former teacher at Axtell Park Middle School in Sioux Falls, had a sexual relationship with a girl she first met as a student. Drueppel was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a relationship that lasted for two years, starting when she was still a teacher at Axtell Park. She had her license revoked and her name was entered into the national NASDTEC database, according to a December 2015 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Jessica Nielsen had accepted a job in Bon Homme public schools before a Nebraska school alerted the state to her sexual advances toward a 16-year-old student there. Neilsen sent a topless photo and sexual notes to the student. The student’s parents found 99 text messages exchanged between the two in April 2015. She had her license revoked and her name was entered into the NASDTEC database, according to a December 2015 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Christia Ault, a special education teacher at Rapid City public schools, pleaded guilty to using methamphetamine after police found drugs, a scale, paraphernalia and a stolen .38-caliber revolver in her car. She had her license revoked and her name was entered into the NASDTEC database, according to a December 2015 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Thomas Mark Wendelgass, a teacher in the Huron School District, pleaded guilty to possession of LSD and disseminating harmful material to a minor in November 2014. Wendelgass sent a naked picture to a 17-year-old former student by Snapchat. He had his license revoked and his name was entered into the NASDTEC database, according to a July 2015 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Justin Dean Kiefer was working at a district in North Dakota when he was arrested for having sex with a 16-year-old student. Kiefer, who also had a South Dakota teaching certificate, had it revoked and his name was entered into the NASDTEC database, according to an April 2015 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Sarah Schmasow, who was hired to be a fourth-grade teacher at the McLaughlin School District, took $786 from the district for moving expenses but resigned before ever teaching a class. Her teaching certificate was suspended for one year and her name was entered into the NASDTEC database, according to a June 2015 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Gregg Wilson, an industrial arts teacher at the Lemmon High School, sent inappropriate texts to a female high school student, making an “attempt to involve himself in (the) student’s personal life.” He had his license suspended for two years and his name was entered into the NASDTEC database, according to a November 2014 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Kandice Schlagel, a school counselor at the Clark School District, had sex with a 16-year-old student. Before filing a complaint, school leaders tried to stop Schlagel by asking her to “maintain a professional relationship” with the student. Her license was revoked and her name was entered into the NASDTEC database, according to a July 2014 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Paul E. Hildebrant, a teacher at Timber Lake public schools, never disclosed numerous criminal charges dating back to 1990. He continued to work in classrooms despite pleading guilty to drunken driving, fraud, reckless driving, driving without a license and violating the state’s open container laws. All of these, and other dismissed charges, went unnoticed by the state’s Education Department until 2008, when Hildebrant disclosed parts of his criminal record. However, state officials continued to renew his license, which wasn’t revoked until he was sentenced to five days in jail in 2013 for using marijuana. His name was entered into the NASDTEC database, according to an August 2014 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Kyle John Keegan, a teacher at the New Underwood School District, had sex with a 15-year-old student at his home in Rapid City and was sentenced to seven years in prison, with four years suspended. Keegan lost his teaching license and his name was entered into the NASDTEC database, according to a June 2013 ruling by the state Secretary of Education.

Robert Boyd, a Todd County teacher, received a public reprimand Jan. 30, 2013, for not maintaining professional relationships with students and exposing them to “unnecessary intimidation, embarrassment or disparagement.” Details of his case were redacted from records sent by the state Department of Education.

George Sazama, a Lennox High School teacher and football coach, had sex with a 17-year-old female student three times at his house while his wife was away in 2010. He resigned and his teaching license was revoked.

Lisa Robinson, a Kadoka Area counselor, shot a pistol three times in the air during an argument at her mother’s home. She was fired and served three days in jail for reckless discharge of a firearm.

Redacted (female), signed a contract with an undisclosed school district for the 2011-12 school year but did not follow through. Disciplinary action not disclosed.

Nicholas Jastorff, a Sioux Falls Patrick Henry Middle School teacher, had repeated sexual contact at school with a 13-year-old girl and exchanged hundreds of text messages with that girl and her 13-year-old friend in 2010. He resigned, his teaching license was revoked, and he was sentenced to 45 years in prison for fourth-degree rape and sexual contact with a child.

Terry W. Olson, a Brookings High School teacher and athletic trainer, sent 18 emails and numerous Facebook friend requests to a 16-year-old female student over three months in 2010. He resigned and his teaching license was revoked for five years.

Patrick Ngufor, an Eagle Butte teacher, fired a .38-caliber handgun to scare a man who had thrown a beer bottle at his car in 2009. His teaching license was revoked; sentenced to 30 days in jail for simple assault and reckless discharge of a firearm.

Redacted (male), drove drunk and hit and kicked a former student in 2009. Disciplinary action was not disclosed.

Joni Kanable, a Wilmot teacher and volleyball coach, had sexual contact with a 16-year-old male student and sent him frequent emails while working in 2010. She resigned and her teaching license was revoked.

Gerry Heck, a teacher and administrator in Bison and Isabel, had sexual contact with a 6- or 7-year-old girl sometime in the years 1993 to 1995. Prosecuted in 2009, he was sentenced to three years in prison and his teaching license was revoked.

Sommar Chaffee, a Hill City teacher, allowed three male students 16 and older to touch her genitals, and exchanged inappropriate text messages and emails with at least six boys, one as young as 14, in 2009. She was fired, had her teaching license revoked and was sentenced to two days in jail for disseminating materials harmful to a minor.

Wade Mackey, a Lead-Deadwood technology director, assaulted and stalked a former girlfriend in 2008 and violated protection orders in 2009. He was fired, had his teaching license revoked, and was sentenced to both jail and prison time.

Daniel Schuknecht, a Sioux Falls Washington High School teacher, robbed a casino in 2008, months after he quit working for the school. His teaching license was revoked, and he was sentenced to six years in prison.

Terry W. Fisher, of Pierre, used another person’s identity to make credit card purchases sometime in the years 2004 to 2008. Her teaching license was revoked.

Rhonda Baloun, a Highmore teacher, urinated in a beer bottle and poured the contents onto a leather couch at a Highmore bar in 2008. She was convicted of second-degree intentional damage to property. She still holds a teaching certificate and is working as a fourth-grade teacher at the Highmore-Harrold School District, according to the district’s website.

Redacted (male) took a sick day from his job, ostensibly to join his spouse on a doctor appointment in Sioux Falls, but actually took a substitute teaching position in a different school district. He received a private reprimand.

Richard Baysinger, a Crow Creek Tribal School special education director, participated in bribes and fraud related to reconstruction of a school dormitory in 2005. His teaching license was revoked, and he was sentenced to one year in federal custody for money laundering.

Lee Essink, of Deadwood, stole and used fraud to obtain prescription drugs between 2005 and 2007, and hid pills and a bottle of urine in her vaginal cavity while being booked into jail. She served multiple jail terms and had her teaching license revoked.

Daniel Eye, a Parkston teacher, committed an act of “moral turpitude or gross immorality” in 2008, the details of which were redacted. He resigned his job and received a public reprimand.

Emily Meyer, of South Shore, committed an act of “moral turpitude or gross immorality” in 2006, the details of which were redacted. She received a public reprimand and was charged with a crime, but the court file was sealed.

Carl Van Stryland, a Canton teacher, failed to maintain a professional relationship with students in 2008, the details of which were redacted. He resigned and his teaching license was revoked.

Marnee White Wolf, a principal at Wounded Knee Elementary School, was accused by a teacher of dismissing her for budgetary reasons 17 days into the 2010 school year and failing to pay her. No information was released as to the outcome of the complaint.

Scott Raue, CEO of Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Schools, participated in bribes and fraud related to reconstruction of a school dormitory in 2005. His teacher/administrator license was revoked, and he was sentenced to five years in prison for theft and bribery and ordered to repay $129,468.

Brady Hastings, a teacher at Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Schools, participated in bribes and fraud related to reconstruction of a school dormitory in 2005. His teaching license was revoked, and he was sentenced to two years probation for embezzlement and theft and ordered to repay $7,935.

Carol Hazel, business manager for the Southeast Area Cooperative, embezzled money from the cooperative sometime in the years 2000 to 2005. She resigned, received a public reprimand, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to repay $3,930.

Redacted, no information was released except that the file was sealed and the accused received a private reprimand.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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