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Permian trainer resigns amid investigation into student relationship - Odessa American: ECISD

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Permian trainer resigns amid investigation into student relationship

Second accusation of ECISD employee misconduct this week

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Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:00 pm

UPDATE: The Permian High School athletic trainer who is being investigated for having an improper relationship with a 19-year-old male student resigned on Wednesday.

April Collins, 28, turned in her letter of resignation sometime Wednesday, according to Communications Director Mike Adkins. Collin's is currently being investigated by Ector County ISD police, according to Interim Superintendent H.T. Sanchez.

It’s the second investigation of similar circumstances involving young female employees at Permian. On Monday, girls swimming and diving coach Kathryn Maples, 28, resigned amid accusations of an improper relationship with a 17-year-old boy. The incidents are unrelated.

Around 9 a.m. Sanchez said Collins had not resigned, but by 1 p.m. Sanchez said she was on paid administrative leave.

Collins graduated from Odessa High in 2003 and participated in track and field for three years, according to a Permian volleyball website where she was listed as a coach. She went to Texas Tech and has her master’s degree in athletic training. She started with the district in July 2010.

The student, employee and others will be interviewed until all information is gathered by investigators. ECISD police are looking through cell phones, social media and other technology, Adkins said.

Sanchez said there’s no standard way of dealing with this type of situation because each incident is different and subject to interpretation.

“It is very unusual to have this kind of proximity to each other,” Sanchez said about two allegations of teacher-student relationships.

On the Maples investigation, no arrests have been made and ECISD police are still investigating. She was the head coach of the Permian girls swimming and diving team and a history teacher, joining the district in June 2012.

According to a Midland County Courthouse court coordinator, attorneys for Maples and her husband reached a temporary divorce settlement in a hearing Wednesday morning.

A potential charge of student-teacher relationship is a second-degree felony and could carry between two and 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Sanchez said these are the only two investigations into improper relationships between employees and students in ECISD occurring right now.

“We’re taking all of this very seriously,” Sanchez said.

When asked about training for employees, Sanchez said every employee goes through required training annually on sexual harassment and misconduct. No person can opt out of the training, he said. ECISD issues criminal history and background checks for every employee, but when it comes to employees making poor decisions, it’s often beyond the district’s control.

“It not only affects someone’s reputation but professional career,” Communications Director Mike Adkins said. “It’s our responsibility to keep kids safe. We will keep working on the process.”

Debbie Ratcliffe, a spokeswoman with the Texas Education Agency, said there is a set policy when a certified teacher is accused of a crime.

“If a teacher is charged with some kind of criminal offense, what we typically do is open an investigation as soon as we learn about that charge and then we just leave that case pending while the criminal investigation plays out,” Ratcliffe said. “Then, once the criminal investigation finishes, we activate our case.”

When a teacher is convicted of a felony, she said the certificate is automatically revoked. However, if it is a lesser crime, she said the agency may take some other kind of action to sanction the certificate.

A few similar cases have plagued ECISD in the past three years, beginning with the inappropriate relationship charge against Permian teacher Robert K. Young.

With just days left in the spring 2010 semester, Young was accused of starting a relationship with an 18-year-old female student, who was a graduating senior.

He is not accused of having sex with the teen, but was accused of having a sexual relationship, including heavy petting and sending nude videos and photos.

Young’s case has not been disposed of and no hearings are listed in the court system.

Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland said his office has been working on Young’s case, which has been assigned to Assistant District Attorney Teresia Depoyster, but he said he could not comment further as it is a pending case.

Young’s attorney, Rick Navarrete, could not be reached for comment.

In 2011, former Bonham Junior High teacher Bryan Dale Berta was accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl on four separate occasions, multiple times each encounter.

Berta pleaded guilty in December 2011 to four counts of sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on each count and pay to $10,000 in restitution.

Staff writer Jon Vanderlaan contributed to this report.

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