Local teacher’s license revoked years after incidents with preschoolers

Fairborn Primary School. FILE PHOTO
Fairborn Primary School. FILE PHOTO

A longtime teacher in Fairborn and Dayton schools had her teaching license revoked in October, stemming from an investigation into two January 2016 incidents while she was teaching at Fairborn Primary School.

According to Ohio Department of Education records, on Jan. 4, 2016, Karen Baumann “used excessive force” to put a special needs preschool student back into his chair — an incident that was reported by a co-worker.

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Two days later, after a kicking incident between two students, ODE records and testimony from a co-worker show Baumann held one preschooler by the arms in front of the other and yelled, “Go ahead and hit her,” as well as “Maybe I should hit you,” leaving both in tears.

ODE documents say an aggravating factor in their decision to revoke Baumann’s license was a 2010 suspension for picking up a Fairborn preschooler who was playing in playground mulch by his ankles and holding him upside down.

Baumann could not be reached for contact this week. The attorney who represented her during the ODE disciplinary process declined comment.

Gary Walker, Fairborn schools’ HR director, said Wednesday that the district followed its normal procedure for when it receives an allegation of conduct unbecoming an educator, placing Baumann on leave. ODE records show she resigned before there was any resolution of the district’s review.

Baumann then applied for a teaching job with Dayton Public Schools in summer 2016 and was hired as a special education preschool teacher at River’s Edge Montessori school.

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DPS records show the district ran normal criminal background checks that came back clean. It is unclear whether DPS was aware of the Fairborn incidents at the time of Baumann’s hire. Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli declined to comment on the case.

An award-winning Dayton Daily News report on teacher discipline cases in 2018 revealed that school employees sometimes resign from a job amid investigation and are hired elsewhere, in part because the state’s investigation process often takes years to complete.

In this instance, Fairborn reported the 2016 Baumann incidents to the Ohio Department of Education.

Baumann started teaching in Dayton in August 2016, and the first mention of any problem in her DPS personnel file was an Aug. 31, 2018, letter from DPS Human Resources, saying that her five-year teaching license, which she had applied to renew that summer “is either pending or on hold” and asking her to resolve the issue.

Attorney Susan Jansen, who often represents Dayton teachers, reminded DPS in a letter one week later that Baumann was legally allowed to keep teaching while her license renewal was being processed. In October 2018, ODE notified Baumann that it intended to deny her renewal application, leading to a May 2019 hearing.

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At the hearing, Fairborn staff testified to the events they witnessed in 2016. Others testified to the quality of Baumann’s teaching, including the River’s Edge principal, who said she had seen nothing she would call inappropriate, and said she gave Baumann a positive performance review.

In October 2019, the state school board, acting on a recommendation from the hearing officer, voted to deny Baumann license renewal application and revoke her license. The ruling said she is eligible to reapply for a license after April 15, 2020 if she completes 24 hours of anger management training. She would be subject to three years of increased oversight.

Dayton’s school board voted to terminate Baumann’s contract at its Nov. 17, 2019, meeting. The Dayton Daily News requested her personnel file that day, and did not receive it until Feb. 6.

Bus driver firing

Also at that Nov. 17 meeting, Dayton’s school board fired school bus driver Khalid Karriem. The district provided his personnel file Feb. 6 as well. WHIO had previously reported that a bus driver was placed on leave after being accused of fondling himself Aug. 29 while students were on the bus.

The personnel file showed that the driver was Karriem, but the issue was different. Karriem acknowledged during an October hearing that he put a towel over his lap, undid his pants, and while driving the bus, urinated into a bottle.

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He cited an urgent need, and said he was unaware of the ability to make a “10-7” call, informing DPS transportation official of an urgent need to leave a bus. As reasons for termination, DPS cited safety and sanitary concerns related to urinating while driving, as well as the risk of exposing himself to students.