The Chandler Police Department and the Arizona Department of Education are investigating a Conley Elementary School teacher who asked her fifth-grade students last week to strip to their underwear so their clothes could be searched for missing money.
Chandler police detective Robert Krautheim said one parent has filed a complaint. He said the investigation could be done in several days or may take longer depending on the department’s workload.
Amy Rezzonico, education department spokeswoman, said the Chandler Unified School District notified state officials last week about the incident. The department is conducting an investigation, which is expected to last a few months.
State law requires school districts to report questionable behavior to the department.
"The school district did the right thing by calling us and letting us know," said Vince Yanez, investigator for the department.
Meanwhile, the Chandler district is continuing its own investigation.
After discovering about $10 to $20 was missing from the class pizza fund, teacher Linda Christian asked for students to volunteer to remove their clothing one at a time in the nurse’s bathroom, said district spokesman Terry Locke. Ten of the class’ 25 students took off their clothes.
"There is not much more I can say than that since we are in the middle of an investigation," Locke said.
Locke said Christian, who has taught with the district since 1993, is on paid administrative leave, which is the usual protocol. Also, he said the evening of the incident, the principal called all parents of students involved.
Yanez said the education department’s investigation is separate from the district’s investigation. At the department, the teacher’s certification could be at stake.
Charlotte Patterson, who has been a Chandler school board member for 12 years, said she has not received any calls from concerned parents.
"I think parents feel confident that the superintendent and the principal will deal with it," Patterson said.
She said Superintendent Camille Casteel is conducting the district’s investigation.