The Tempe Union High School District governing board took steps Thursday to fire Desert Vista High School choir teacher Richard Allen Martin for "inappropriate behavior" amid allegations that he made sexual comments to a student and tried to kiss her.
Martin has been under investigation by the district and the Phoenix Police Department since February, said district spokeswoman Nicole Greason. Phoenix forwarded its report to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office with recommendations that Martin be charged with one count of sexual abuse and one count of aggravated assault.
The investigations stemmed from a student reporting to police that Martin made sexual suggestions to her and tried to kiss her earlier this school year.
Dozens of Desert Vista High School students filled the governing board room Thursday to support Martin.
Sophomore Kala Weinacker, 15, called the allegations "bogus."
"I care a lot about Mr. Martin. He’s always been close to his students in an appropriate way," she said.
Martin has 30 days to request a hearing at the district. The district then has 10 to 25 days to respond and hold a hearing.
According to a district letter, three girls had made allegations against Martin last school year.
Police were not contacted in these incidents because the allegations did not fit the guidelines to contact police according to state statute, Greason said.
"The district handled that incident appropriately," she said.
Martin, 60, has been a teacher in the district since 1995. He has been at Desert Vista since 1997. Prior to that, he was a teacher in Colorado.
A call to his attorney was not returned.
Arizona Department of Education spokeswoman Amy Rezzonico said the department will investigate whether Martin should keep his teaching certification.