Educators avoid charges in sex case - East Valley Tribune: News

Educators avoid charges in sex case

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Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 9:17 am | Updated: 1:50 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Tempe prosecutors on Tuesday decided not to file charges against a high school principal and teacher suspected of failing to report early allegations of sexual misconduct by a fellow staff member.

But an official with the state Department of Education said they are not yet in the clear.

Once the state Board of Education has reviewed all the investigative files in the case, officials will determine whether there was a reporting violation, said Amy Rezzonico, a spokeswoman with the agency.

Grace Gamez, an English teacher and assistant basketball coach at Marcos de Niza High School, was notified last week that her contract will not be renewed after her arrest on accusations she had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student in her Chandler apartment.

Chandler police also stated in a report that it appeared the principal and another teacher failed to report allegations about Gamez that surfaced in December.

Rezzonico said the board is still investigating Gamez’s teacher certification, and said the Tempe prosecutor’s decision not to pursue charges may not have any bearing on what the state does.

"With regard to any reporting violation, we don’t know yet," she said.

According to a letter to Chandler police dated Tuesday, Tempe’s senior prosecutor, James Emery, said that principal Frank Mirizio and head basketball coach Jeffrey Glab did not have "reasonable grounds" to believe there was sexual abuse in December.

However, Chandler and Tempe police reports indicate that "her teammates were talking about her relationship with Gamez."

Mirizio asked Gamez and Glab to investigate the complaint and they talked to the students about sexual harassment.

Gamez denied the allegations when asked by Mirizio.

Emery said that since Gamez and the unidentified student denied the allegations, Mirizio surmised that the allegations were not true.

"Our opinion is that we do not have sufficient information to assure any likelihood of conviction of either subject," Emery wrote.

Discipline for not reporting misconduct could range from a letter of reprimand to suspension or revocation of that employee’s certification, said Vince Yanez, an investigator with the state Board of Education.

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