Documents: School district knew about Fisher allegations years ago

Documents dating back to 2007 show there were concerns about Michael Fisher's alleged inappropriate behavior, but nothing was done about it.

Posted: Mar 2, 2018 6:49 PM
Updated: Mar 2, 2018 7:55 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Documents suggest Springfield School District officials and the Springfield Police Department were aware of an alleged inappropriate relationship between former Academy of Arts and Academics Director Michael Fisher and a former student as early as 2007.

The allegations against Fisher first came to light in February, after he committed suicide.

In a police report, the victim claims there were multiple incidents where she was raped, manipulated and threatened by Fisher when she was a student. She said many times the incidents occurred on school property, and their relationship even continued after she graduated.

School district officials said a parent brought up concerns about Fisher's conduct with the student in 2007 and notified a teacher. The teacher then filed a report with the school district, claiming Fisher held hands with the student and gave her car rides. 

Documents show the teacher who filed the report was married to a detective in the Springfield Police Department at the time, and she told him about the report. At the time, the detective didn't take any action. An investigation was not conducted and it is not clear if anyone else knew about the report. 

Springfield School District spokesperson Jenna McCulley said the district became aware of the complaint in Fisher's personnel file during their recent investigation. 

When asked why it took so long to address the complaint, she said no one in the current administration was on the leadership team at the time who would have had access to that information. 

Lt. Scott McKee with Springfield police said he isn't sure why the department didn't look into it further.

"We have an obligation to report and investigate allegations that might involve abuse of children and to the extent that we did not do that," McKee said. "That is our fault. We should have made more inquiry at that time."

The police report said concerns of inappropriate behavior were brought to then-Superintendent Nancy Golden, who reportedly ordered the human resources director at the time to stop investigating. The human resources director told police Golden was "tight" with Fisher, and it could have caused a problem for the entire school.

Documents show in 2015, the governing body of A3 conducted a survey for parents, students, and staff. There were two responses that raised concerns, but they were redacted before they were submitted to the district.

"The information that was released or uncovered in this case is horrific and is inconsistent with the foundation of what our district stands for in caring for and support staff and students," McCulley said.

McCulley said the district was simply not aware of the allegations and rumors surrounding Fisher until teachers at the school brought it to their attention recently. 

She also said since A3 is a charter school, the governing body retains some autonomy but is still required to follow district and state policies. The district's current policy is that if a staff member has a reasonable suspicion of an inappropriate relationship, they are required to report it within 24 hours. 

The district and police department will be looking into the matter further to determine where the breakdown of information happened. 

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