SOUTH AMHERST — A suspended Lorain math teacher facing criminal charges of texting two teenage boys to ask for nude photos resigned from Firelands Schools in 2012 while under investigation for what district officials considered an inappropriate text exchange with one of his students there.
The Ohio Board of Education will hold a hearing in November on whether Sean Silvasy, 43, should face state sanctions, including the possible loss of his teaching credentials, for his alleged improper conduct while with Firelands.
Silvasy began working for Firelands in 2006, according to documents released by the district on Wednesday, and served as a yearbook and newspaper adviser as well as coaching bowling and golf.
Silvasy fell under scrutiny after a parent complained to the district in October 2012 about the interactions her son was having with the teacher, according to the documents.
In a letter dated Oct. 25, 2012, the mother wrote that she had noticed her son was texting with Silvasy at the end of the previous school year and when she asked about it, her son told her that Silvasy had offered him a job. Silvasy told the parents he had students help him at properties he owned by painting and mowing the lawn.
The job lasted only one day, the mother wrote, because her son came home after the first day and reported that he and Silvasy had been wrestling. The mother also wrote that she told her son not to text with Silvasy any more.
But on Oct. 23, 2012, the mother wrote, she noticed her son again was texting with Silvasy and took his phone and discovered inappropriate texts between the two.
The messages, copies of which were included in Silvasy’s file, began at 8:24 a.m. that day with the student asking Silvasy “Are u here 2 day” and Silvasy replied “Yupppp” four minutes later.
The student began another exchange with Silvasy at 10 a.m., by telling him “Were in Johnston doin stuf (sic) didn’t want to distract u.” Silvasy replied, “Thanks. I was wonderin (sic).”
Silvasy picked up the conversation again at 8:23 p.m. that same day, texting the student that “It’s almost time for your bedtime story lil tyke ;)”
The two then discussed whether the student might have strep throat before the student tells Silvasy he didn’t complete a paper. They then discussed a sports practice before Silvasy texted the boy a smiley face emoticon. The student replied, “fag.”
Silvasy then texted back, “Same to you gayboyy (sic)” to which the student responds “Only with myself.”
Later in the exchange, Silvasy texted the boy “Dude you’re gay. It’s obvious” with a smiley face emoticon.
“Well I must be bye… sike im totally kidding!” the boy replied.
“Haha, you know I love you either way. Lol,” Silvasy texted.
The student then wrote “Ha ha ha fagito” before Silvasy replied “Ahaha I love you blond/blue,” followed by another smiley face emoticon, something that prompted the student to respond “U are literaly (sic) gay as (expletive)!”
Silvasy replied, “Ha, only as gay as you are.”
Silvasy was suspended by Firelands on Oct. 25, 2012, and on Nov, 15, 2012, Firelands Superintendent Robert Hill filed an official misconduct report with the Ohio Department of Education.
“The aforementioned teacher engaged in an inappropriate text message conversation with a student,” the document said. “In addition, according to the attached phone records, the teacher has held ongoing text message communication with the student for several months.”
Silvasy officially resigned in a Nov. 30, 2012, letter citing as the reason for his departure “multiple members of my family who require regular attention, care and support, and I feel that this is where I am needed most.”
More than a year later, on Dec. 3, 2013, Lori Kelly, director of the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct, notified Hill that the state Board of Education had initiated disciplinary proceedings against Silvasy.
The state complaint also accused Silvasy of employing a student “without completing a pledge of employment to the district and without receiving a proper age and schooling certificate from the district.”
Hill said that in addition to reporting Silvasy to the state, Lorain County Children Services and law enforcement were notified, but he doesn’t believe anything came of those investigations.
Lorain County Sheriff’s Sgt. Randy Koubeck said the Firelands issue wasn’t a part of the investigation into the texts Silvasy admitted sending to two boys, who are 16 and 17, in January asking for nude photos.
But he did say the two teens had done work for Silvasy on property he owned.
Silvasy, who taught high school math at the alternative Credit Recovery Academy, has been placed on paid leave by Lorain Schools in the wake of the criminal charges against him, which were handed down by a county grand jury last week.
Lorain Superintendent Tom Tucker said he wasn’t aware that Silvasy had faced allegations he sent inappropriate text messages while working at Firelands.
He said Silvasy had done tutoring work in Lorain before he joined the district as a full-time teacher in August 2013. He said a criminal background check on Silvasy turned up nothing that raised any concerns.
Both Tucker and Hill said while teacher personnel files are public records, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a district considering hiring a teacher will call districts where the teacher previously worked to request the documents. Hill said he’s requested personnel files for potential hires in the past, but doesn’t believe he’s ever done so in his three years at Firelands.