Springboro Schools officials are encouraging parents to have open dialogue with their children in the wake of misconduct allegations against physical education teacher John Austin Hopkins.
In an email and phone call Monday evening, the school district provided parents resources to help them facilitate a conversation with their child about the allegations of unprofessional misconduct between Hopkins and his students. All parents were advised to have the discussion, though the email specifies parents of current students in first, second, sixth and seventh grade whose child had Hopkins as a PE teacher during his time at Springboro Schools.
Hopkins was hired in August 2018 and taught physical education for first and sixth grades at Clearcreek Elementary and Springboro Intermediate schools. He’s worked for the district on and off since 2016 as a substitute and custodian. According to his personnel file, Hopkins was never disciplined.
The district first learned of allegations of inappropriate conduct with a student when a parent reported concerns to the principal at Clearcreek Elementary School, the district has said.
Police did not release the nature of the allegations, though Hopkins was initially placed on paid-leave on March 8 amid the investigation.
He submitted his letter of resignation just a few days later to both Springboro Schools and Coffman Family YMCA, where he was an assistant swim team coach.
Hopkins told the district “for personal and professional reasons I am hereby resigning from all contracts I am engaged in with Springboro Community City Schools, effective immediately.”
The email that went to parents Monday included useful steps they can take in case their kids are victims of acts similar to those that Hopkins is accused of. Some of the tips included remaining calm when informed of the situation, being a listener rather than an investigator, and reassuring the child that they’ve done the right thing by disclosing the information.
“It is important if you feel as though your child has been adversely affected due to anything related to this situation that you contact the Springboro Police Department immediately,” the release stated.
Parents were also encouraged to contact a mental health professional who has expertise in child trauma, or alternatively, a pediatrician.
This news organization attempted to attend a meeting scheduled to take place Monday at a local church where parents were invited to discuss the misconduct allegations.
The location of the gathering was changed at the last minute and we were not informed of the new location. The meeting was organized by a Cincinnati-based attorney who represents at least one of the families of an alleged victim.
The investigation remains ongoing and it’s unclear if it will lead to any charges against Hopkins.
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