The state Board of Education suspended a former East Valley school principal’s teaching certificate for failing to report allegations of sexual conduct between a teacher and an underage student.
The Arizona Board of Education suspended Amy Fraser’s certification last month for not notifying police about possible criminal behavior by one of her subordinates.
Fraser, former principal of Mesa’s Sequoia Secondary School, admitted she had been told in 2015 of possible misconduct by Sheron Butler, a math teacher and football coach. But Fraser claims she wasn’t the only administrator who knew about the allegations.
“It was an unfortunate scenario where a lot of administrators were involved but I was the only one targeted for their own internal reasons,” Fraser told the board at its December meeting.
Mesa Police arrested Butler in 2015, on suspicion of having sexual conduct with a 17-year-old girl. He later plead guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison followed by lifetime probation.
Prosecutors additionally went after Butler’s colleagues who may have known about his relationship since it’s a crime to not report such behavior to authorities.
A grand jury only indicted Fraser for failing to report neglect of a minor.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge in 2018, after Fraser agreed to undergo training and pay $1,000 to the Child Help Children’s Center of Arizona.
Fraser claims to have reported the allegations against Butler to her superiors at Sequoia, a charter school owned by EdKey Inc., and did not think she had to report it to anyone else.
“I was the only one who was brought forth any type of consequence,” she told the Board of Education.
Lawyers representing EdKey recently told the Tribune the company’s top administrators were not made aware of the sexual misconduct until they were notified by police.
Fraser was an elementary school administrator for several years before EdKey asked her to take the principal position at Sequoia’s high school.
“She accepted the position but does not feel she was provided adequate training or support by her employer,” Fraser’s attorney wrote in board documents.
In March 2015, a Sequoia teacher told Fraser they saw some worrying Facebook messages suggesting one of the school’s students was in love with a teacher.
Fraser alleges she got a copy of all the Facebook messages and brought them to EdKey’s human resources director. Fraser was instructed to get more information from the student.
Public records show Fraser allegedly asked the student about having any romantic relationships with a teacher.
Fraser claimed the student denied any relationships and indicated she made it up to make another boy jealous.
Some of the Facebook messages discussed the student’s relationship with Butler and their plans to be together after Butler divorced his wife. Fraser claimed she did not see these specific messages.
The principal went back to human resources and was told EdKey would review the allegations.
EdKey’s former CEO told reporters in 2015, the human resources director left the company a few months before authorities pursued criminal charges against Fraser.
The teenage student later confided in a church counselor about her relationship with Butler. The counselor contacted Mesa Police in July 2015, and an investigation into Sequoia’s staff was opened.
The student told investigators she had engaged in sexual activity with Butler multiple times in motels around Mesa and once in a Sequoia classroom.
The Board of Education reached an agreement with Fraser to suspend her license for three years. She told the board she’s not worked in education since leaving Sequoia in 2015.
Fraser’s case highlights the complexity with how these types of cases are prosecuted.
While the County Attorney’s Office felt there was enough evidence to charge Fraser, it felt differently about a group of Chandler educators who allegedly knew about criminal activity going on at Hamilton High School.
Chandler Police recommended charges in 2017 for two coaches and an administrator after students revealed they allegedly knew about and failed to report hazing rituals going on in a locker room.
Former Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery declined prosecuting the Hamilton educators because the case was based on too much hearsay.