School officials say aide is no longer affiliated with district

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer
The City of Burlington Police Department on Friday confirmed it is actively investigating allegations of inappropriate contact with students by a former Dyer Elementary School staff member.
The staff member — who was apparently fired by the district this week —  served as a special education aide in the Burlington Area School District for more than a decade. He has not been named by police or school officials, who cited the ongoing investigation as the reason
According to a letter addressed to parents on Thursday, the allegations came to light last week, when a student expressed concern about the staff member who invaded their space and engaged in inappropriate touching. 
“We take these concerns seriously and as such, spoke with several people to better understand the situation,” Superintendent Stephen Plank and Dyer Principal Scott Schimmel wrote in the joint letter. 
“We determined that the staff member’s conduct was not appropriate for an an elementary school setting. The conduct related to a staff member invading the personal space of a student. It was described as hugging, rubbing a student’s back, touching hair, and/or pushing on a swing.”
The district, meanwhile, noted the staff member is no longer affiliated with BASD based on his conduct. 
School officials have already contacted families with children who have been directly affected by the staff member’s behavior. 
The district states the incident serves as an opportunity for all families to have conversations to help their children learn about personal space, including sharing strategies for preventing unwanted touching, such as an unwelcome hug from an adult they may not know well.
The letter, meanwhile, reiterated student safety remains a top priority for the district.
“At Dyer Elementary, we take great pride in offering an environment that supports learning and is safe for everyone,” the letter states. “Our school is a small, compassionate community with committed staff and students who care about each other.”
For additional coverage of this matter will run in the April 28 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.