An Indian Valley teacher facing sexual misconduct allegations was called one of the best teachers in the district by some parents who spoke to the Greenon Board of Education Wednesday night and he should be put back in the classroom.
Larry Yowler, a 20-year district employee, is on paid leave after a parent filed a protection order request in Clark County Common Pleas Court alleging her daughter told her that Yowler touched her private area and forced her to sit on his lap during reading time.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has launched a criminal investigation but no charges have been filed. The district also launched its own investigation into the allegations.
Yowler has done nothing wrong, his attorney, Samuel Petroff, said in a statement.
“He is dedicated to the teaching profession and has been so for the past 20 years,” the statement says. “His students have always been his top priority and he has prided himself on making learning meaningful.”
School parents were vocal in the hallways Tuesday night when the board of education met in executive session to discuss whether they should place Yowler on unpaid suspension and initiate a termination process. The board decided to table the decision.
Three parents — two of whom said they have children in Yowler’s class — told the board during the regular meeting Wednesday night that they support the second-grade teacher.
He’s a great teacher and should be in the classroom, parent Christy Reed said, adding her child wants him back.
“She cried when she learned he wasn’t coming back for a while,” Reed said.
She read a letter from her child at the meeting.
“I miss you, Mr. Yowler, very much,” the letter says. “Please vote for Mr. Yowler to come back. We miss him so much. Please, I miss him so much because I am so sad that he is gone.”
Yowler helped her child learn to read, Greenon parent Jessi DeVore said, and her child is struggling now that the teacher is out of the classroom.
Yowler is a good teacher and her child needs him back, she said.
DeVore also criticized a letter sent home to parents, which she says didn’t do a good job explaining what was happening.
Marc Masquelier said Yowler is the best teacher in the district.
“I’m very concerned that we would let a man of his caliber go,” Masquelier said. “There is a lot of hysteria in the media with the Me Too thing, I get that, I have three daughters. But I also have a lot of evidence that he is not that kind of guy.”
Yowler has taught in the district for a long time and never faced any issues, Masquelier said.
“I would encourage you to reconsider,” he said. “I would encourage you to bring him back because we need him here.”
Yowler received constant high marks on his evaluations, according to a review of his personnel file by the Springfield News-Sun. Petroff said in the statement that Yowler has won the Excellence in Teaching award and a grant from Wittenberg.
“He appreciates the outpouring of support he has received from the community,” the statement says.
School board members didn’t respond to the comments. Board President Dennis Henry previously said the board is working hard to make the right decision and that it’s a difficult issue.
A hearing for the protection order request is set for Feb. 16.