The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Monday to suspend the teaching certificate of a former Hennessey Public Schools coach and teacher.
Hennessey High School girls basketball coach and fifth-grade science teacher R.J. Ramer’s certificate was suspended, and an administrative judge will begin the certificate revocation proceeding, said Steffie Corcoran, director of communications for the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
Ramer was placed on a 10-day suspension Dec. 1 and Ramer submitted his letter of resignation — handwritten on yellow legal paper — to the HPS Board of Education on Dec. 2; the board voted to accept the resignation at their regular meeting Dec. 7.
Ramer is being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for inappropriate behavior with a female student, according to a Dec. 10 article in The Hennessey Clipper.
Search warrants were served in the case, OSBI Agent Lynda Stevens told the Clipper on Monday, according to a Thursday article in the Clipper.
“Use of technology and social media are involved in the investigation, and that’s what’s taking so long,” Stevens said in the article, adding that she couldn’t comment further because the investigation is ongoing.
Stevens could not be reached for comment by the News & Eagle.
OSBI Public Information Officer Jessica Brown confirmed on Dec. 7 the bureau was investigating alleged inappropriate contact between a Hennessey district employee and a student, but declined to confirm if Ramer was the subject of the investigation, or to comment on the nature of the contact.
State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, filed a bill in November that would require all school districts to “adopt a social media policy governing communication between school district personnel and students,” according to the bill text; the bill has yet to go before committees.
The HPS board voted in July to adopt an electronic communication policy limiting such communication between students and district staff.
School district attorney Phyllis Walta said at the July board meeting that unless the student and staff member are also family, there is no need for communication outside the school.
“We are trying to eliminate inappropriate contact between staff and students,” she said. “The professional relationships of students and teacher diminish when you become friends with them on a social networking site.”
The policy adoption came on the heels of alleged misconduct involving communication between former Hennessey girls basketball coach Marty McBride and a female student, which included discussions of “love and relationships,” and McBride announced his resignation on March 11 via a post on Facebook.
Two other coaches at HPS, former baseball coach Mike Conway and former girls basketball coach Ben Davis Forsythe, pleaded guilty to sex offenses with students in 2011.