Accused ex-teacher’s references included principal, superintendent

The former Springboro gym and heath teacher now facing charges of sexually touching 28 girls in his class had support from a superintendent, principal and a YMCA official when he applied for jobs.

John Austin Hopkins, 25, was nominated for the full-time job by then-Springboro Intermediate School Principal Diane Stacy after time Hopkins spent as a substitute and custodian in the district, according to the school records.

His references on an earlier Dayton Area School Consortium application included Stacy, Tobias Boedeker, a program director at the Coffman YMCA, and Springboro school Superintendent Dan Schroer.

“From a personal perspective, I am pleased you will be working in our school district. I have no doubt that you will do an outstanding job on behalf of our students,” Carrie Hester, director of human resources for the district, said in his July 17 hiring letter.

On Thursday, Hopkins is to be arraigned and bond set in his case. He faces 36 charges of gross sexual imposition of 28 first-grade girls.

The cases relate to alleged touching of girls during class at Clearcreek Elementary School. Investigators reviewed security video during a three-month probe leading to the indictment.

Hopkins remained in the jail without bond Tuesday.

In his letter of introduction to the district, Hopkins said he was a long-term substitute teacher in gym and health education, “a position I have come to love and have worked hard to succeed in.”

He also indicated he came from “a family of educators.”

Hopkins started the job, split between Clearcreek Elementary and Springboro Intermediate, on Aug. 13, 2018.

The video, upon which much of the case is based, comes from a three-month loop that records over itself. The section viewed during the investigation covered dates between Dec. 12 and March 6, according to the indicment.

On Monday, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said the charges were culled from more than 100 incidents judged “sufficiently questionable” by investigators viewing school security video. These incidents involved 88 first-grade girls presented to the special session of the grand jury convened to decide which justified criminal charges, according to Fornshell.

Hopkins previously worked as a substitute while earning a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Miami University and a master’s degree in public health from Wright State University.

On June 9, 2016, he was hired as a classified substitute and hired on Aug. 11, 2016, as a custodian at Dennis and Five Points elementaries. On Dec. 13, 2016, he resigned to concentrate on “spring graduation,” according to the personnel file.

He also worked as a musical theater tech at Springboro High and guest lecturer to a high school health class, according to the files.

A graduate of Springboro High School, Hopkins also lives in Springboro and was arrested Monday at the Springboro Police Department.

Hopkins initially was scheduled for arraignment on July 5 by Magistrate Andrew Hasselbach.

On Tuesday, his arraignment was moved up to Thursday and is to be held at 2 p.m. before Judge Robert Peeler, the judge assigned to the case.

Also Tuesday, Kevin Hardman, a former Hamilton County prosecutor, was assigned as main prosecutor in the case. Assistant County Prosecutor Julie Kraft is also assigned, according to the case docket.

RELATED: Parents press for school-district changes as ex-Springboro teacher indicted on dozens of gross sexual imposition charges

Hopkins is represented by Ed Perry, a lawyer in the Rittgers & Rittgers firm. Perry declined comment.

Hopkins was placed on paid leave on March 8 before resigning on March 12 after being accused of improper contact with a student, according to the school district.

A competitive swimmer, Hopkins coached swimming at the Coffman Y in Springboro. He resigned from that position in March.

On April 1, Schroer, the Springboro superintendent, sent a fax to the Ohio Department of Education, Office of Professional Conduct, alerting them about Hopkins’ resignation, according records obtained by this newspaper.

On Tuesday, Hopkins’ state teaching license was active through June 30, 2022, according to the state records.

The four-year “alternative resident educator designated subject license” was valid at Springboro Community City Schools in health and physical educations fields, according to the state’s system.

From 2015 to 2018, Hopkins held one-year, short-term substitute general education licenses from the state, according to online records.

Hopkins has been replaced as a phys ed teacher at Clearcreek Elementary by Leslie Berg, “as part of a voluntary transfer,” Communications Coordinator Scott Marshall said in series of email responses to questions.

“Berg has taught in Springboro since 2005 and has a certification in physical education,” according to Marshall.

Levi Moody, newly hired, will replace Hopkins’ at Springboro Intermediate, Marshall said.

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