LIMA — A Heritage Elementary School physical education teacher chose to resign instead of being terminated after repeatedly being reprimanded for “inappropriate physical interaction with students.”
The “physical interaction” is largely related to tickling students, according to a report submitted by the district to the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct Thursday.
The Lima school board accepted Kenneth Lepper’s resignation Thursday. The behavior in question is not considered criminal, Superintendent Jill Ackerman said. He was put on unpaid leave as a result of an investigation Jan. 14. He signed a separation agreement with the district Wednesday.
Lepper could not be reached for comment Thursday. The number listed for Lepper is no longer in service.
Lepper, 50, was hired by the district in 1999. He teaches physical education, the last 10 years at Heritage. He has also served as a coach and assisted the athletic director with supervision.
According to the report, Lepper received written reprimands in March 2008, and June 2010, for inappropriate physical interactions with students. He was told then to refrain from any playful physical interaction with students. Lepper received a three-day suspension in December 2010 for the same.
Last May, he again received a written reprimand, this time for leaving the building with a student to get money from his car. He was put on leave Jan 14 for inappropriate physical interaction.
This last time, a female student said Lepper tickled her on her upper thigh three or more times. A staff member also reported seeing Lepper tickle a student “high on her thigh.”
After school officials talked to seven students, three girls said he tickled them during gym class, one boy said Lepper tickled him in the stomach and two boys said they saw him tickle another student during class.
“Mr. Lepper tickles all the girls,” one said.
The report also includes a letter from another staff member who saw Lepper “tapping” a student on the buttocks as she was flipping forward during gym class.
The school district is required to send a report to the state, Ackerman said. She declined to comment further.
“We follow their guidelines and rules to the T,” she said.
A report has also been filed with Allen County Children Services.