Miamisburg told teacher: ‘Refrain from physical contact with students’

Miamisburg officials investigated concerns about a middle school teacher’s conduct with students more than a year before she faced criminal charges about sexual contact with an eighth-grader, a newly obtained school district memo shows.

The concerns included allegations of Jessica Langford “flirting with male students” and concerns that she sat on a male student’s lap, according to a Miamisburg memo the district wrote in advance of a Feb. 10, 2016, meeting with Langford.

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Miamisburg Middle School Principal Kelly Thomas and Assistant Principal Eric Lenski investigated and could not find evidence to support some of the concerns outlined.

Thomas and Lenski, however, “counseled Mrs. Langford that she was to maintain a professional distance from, and relationship with, students, and that she was to refrain from physical contact with students,” according to the memo.

That February 2016 meeting date with Langford was more than 15 months before a teenager had sex with Langford in her locked Miamisburg Middle School classroom before school on May 23, 2017, according to the student’s testimony last week in the trial. Her resignation letter was dated that same day.

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A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court jury on Friday found Langford, 32, of Centerville, guilty of three counts of sexual battery and three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. She faces a May 14 sentencing hearing.

Attempts on Tuesday to reach Langford and her attorney were unsuccessful.

The district provided the memo this week after this news organization sought additional personnel records, including disciplinary records involving concerns raised by staff members, students or community members.

The memo stemmed from concerns about Langford’s “classroom management skills and performance as a teacher,” Miamisburg Superintendent David Vail said Tuesday.

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The 2016 memo – compiled by Principal Thomas – outlines nine concerns district officials raised with Langford.

One item listed: “Concern: Male student was sitting at Mrs. Langford’s desk,” according to the document. “Mrs. Langford sat on the male student’s lap. Concern was that Mrs. Langford was flirting with male students.”

The document said the district found no evidence Langford was flirting with students.

In early 2016, Langford was given a verbal warning for one concern outlined in the memo. Middle school administrators also “directed Mrs. Langford that she is strictly prohibited from ever sitting on a student’s lap, and that she must refrain from physical contact with students.”

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Another concern, according to the document, “was that Mrs. Langford allows students to make inappropriate and sometimes sexual comments toward her,” the document states.

“We discovered no evidence that Mrs. Langford allowed students to make inappropriate or sexual comments toward her, or that Mrs. Langford was flirting with students,” Thomas wrote. “However, we did note that at times, Mrs. Langford positioned herself more as a ‘friend’ than as an authority figure to her students.”

Vail on Tuesday wrote that the memo was “in response to concerns Miamisburg Middle School administrators had about Jessica Langford’s classroom management skills and performance as a teacher.”

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The memo shows “numerous administrators followed up to the concerns detailed in that memo by taking such actions as observing Ms. Langford in her classroom, frequently stopping by that classroom, meeting with Ms. Langford, helping her develop strategies to improve her classroom management, and directing Ms. Langford to take specific steps to improve her performance,” Vail stated.

Another concern listed in the document is that male students were coming to her classroom to “eat lunch with Mrs. Langford,” the document states.

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“Concern expressed that door was closed and same two students were coming in every day,” according to the document, which states this action was reported by staff members.

According to the document, Lenski reviewed hallway video surveillance outside Langford’s classroom and saw students coming to her room for lunch for “the past several days.”

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On Jan. 7, 2016, Lenski met with Langford to address students going to her classroom to eat lunch, the document states. On Feb. 2, 2016, “after reports that male students were continuing to come to Mrs. Langford’s classroom for lunch,” Lenski sent Langford an email directing her to immediately discontinue that practice, the document states.

“Mr. Lenski also gave Mrs. Langford a verbal warning regarding this conduct, under Article VIII(B)(1) of the District’s contract with the Miamisburg Education Association,” Thomas wrote.

During Langford’s trial last week, Assistant Prosecutor Michele Henne said the 2016 document was among the records investigators obtained from the school district in preparing. It was not submitted as evidence, but may have been had Langford’s attorney called any witnesses, Henne said.

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During the trial, prosecutors presented surveillance video that showed the teacher and the eighth-grader entering her classroom before the last day of school in May, 2017. A teacher saw the two and contacted administrators, and Principal Thomas went to Langford’s room, where she testified that the lights were off and door locked.

The student testified that, when Thomas came to Langford’s door, he hid under her desk. Video showed the student leave her classroom later.

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