Local News

Former teacher faces charges related to student

SEBRING - A former Hill-Gustat Middle School teacher has been charged by the State Attorney’s Office with contributing to the delinquency of a child and disorderly conduct. The charges against Kenneth “Ken” Koehler, 34, of Sebring, stem from while he was teaching at Hill-Gustat and involve a female student. Highlands Today could not find a record of an arrest, however. A document from State Attorney Jerry Hill and Assistant State Attorney Gary Ellis states that between Dec. 1, 2012 and Feb. 14, 2013 Koehler unlawfully kissed and/or French kissed and/or engaged in unprofessional or inappropriate or lewd conduct with a child. A Highlands County Sheriff’s Office warrant affidavit states a sheriff’s investigator spoke to Hill-Gustat Principal Chris Doty about his concerns of Koehler and one of his students.
Doty provided a notarized statement in which he stated he spoke to Koehler and warned him to avoid being too personal with the student, the affidavit states. Doty stated he moved the student from Koehler’s math class to keep them away from each other. Doty monitored the situation and began noticing the student meeting with Koehler in secret, the affidavit shows. Doty also provided surveillance video showing the defendant and victim meeting after being told to stay away from each other. The investigator also obtained notarized statements from numerous other teachers at the school, all of which indicated a suspicious relationship developing between the student and Koehler, the affidavit shows. The victim stated she went to Koehler’s classroom after school in December for help with her math assignments, the affidavit states. She stated that while in his classroom, Koehler unexpectedly kissed her on the mouth. The victim described two additional incidents in which she was “French kissed” by Koehler, according to the affidavit. Contributing to the delinquency of a child is a first-degree misdemeanor and disorderly conduct is a second-degree misdemeanor. A pre-trial conference, with Judge Anthony Ritenour presiding, has been scheduled for May 21, in the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court of Highlands County. Deputy Superintendent Rodney Hollinger said Koehler was suspended without pay on March 19 and then resigned with prejudice on April 8 as the school district and the Education Practices Commission investigated allegations of “inappropriate/unprofessional conduct.” Even though there has been a resignation there is still an investigation with the Education Practices Commission, Hollinger noted. So it’s still an open case. Koehler started working at Hill-Gustat Middle in Aug., 2007 as a math teacher, according to a brief bio on the Internet that previously had been on the school’s website.


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