St. Paul teachers allege sexual harassment from colleague

Several St. Paul public schoolteachers are speaking publicly about what they claim is several instances of sexual harassment against their colleagues by a teacher who, despite moving to a different school, maintained his employment with the district.

The complaints center on a male teacher who worked at Benjamin Mays Elementary and apparently sent explicit photos to a number of colleagues more than three years ago. After several meetings with administration and the school board he was moved to a different school, though other district employees have called for him to be fired.

The four teachers who came forward to media outlets say they're not victims and are simply coming forward on behalf of younger teachers who confided in them. The group, which met with lawyers in Bloomington, Minn., Thursday, also says they've been targeted by the district  with reduced hours and unnecessary school transfers after reporting the alleged harassment. If no action is taken, they are threatening to sue the district.

“We come here today because we realize that the district has no intention of keeping these vulnerable teachers safe," St. Paul teacher Patricia Boyt said after a meeting with attorneys. "We want answers as to how a male teacher has been allowed to harass female teachers in an elementary school for so long.”

The district denies any retaliation against those teachers who have spoken out, saying the district "has the right to transfer teachers from one school to another to meet the needs of students."

A disciplinary memo for the man in question obtained by Fox 9 details multiple instances of inappropriate text messages and "persisting in asking for hugs," as well as various other unprofessional behavior that dates back to at least 2010.

“We believe in public education but we are appalled at the lack of response to this multi-victim harassment in our school system," Boyt said. "It is the responsibility of the district to guide and protect and keep all teachers safe.”