Court renders ruling on teacher who had sex with student on graduation night

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The stories of teachers having sex with their high school and middle school students appear to be popping up more often.  One of those stories came out of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has decided to allow a teacher fired for having sex with an 18-year-old on her graduation night to return to teaching.

The decision to deny Cornwall-Lebanon School District’s appeal of the Commonwealth Court ruling comes three years after the district fired Luke “Todd” Scipioni for his affair with the former student that occurred 10 years prior to that.

Cornwall-Lebanon School District Superintendent Philip Domenic said he was unhappy with the court’s decision. “The facts of this case remain undisputed. What has been in dispute is the appropriate consequence for Mr. Scipioni’s conduct,” he said in an emailed statement. “The Cornwall-Lebanon School District has been firm in its stance that this conduct was not appropriate for a public school teacher. The District will, however, abide by the decision of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania upholding the arbitrator’s award and returning Mr. Scipioni to employment.”

An arbitrator said there was no accusation of a sexual relationship prior to the student’s graduation and Scipioni was not culpable for any relationship that occurred after that.

The arbitrator said Scipioni should be reinstated after a one-year suspension for not being truthful. A lower court reversed the arbitration but was overruled by an appeals court. The supreme court upheld the appeals court’s decision.

A longtime Social Studies teacher, Scipioni was also the coach of the Falcons girls’ basketball team in 2003-04 when he struck up a relationship with one of his students. They reportedly had sex on the night of her graduation, which was a month after she turned 18, according to court documents.

Their physical relationship continued through that summer but ended when the young woman went to college.

Rumors circulated in the district at the time, causing Scipioni to step down from his coaching position. Later, when Scipioni attempted to return to coach the Falcons boys’ basketball team, school officials told him they did not want him in the position because of the suspected relationship with his former student.

According to court documents, Scipioni denied having an inappropriate relationship with the student when questioned by district officials in 2010, but admitted he had gotten “too close” to her and it had caused him “a lot of marital problems.”

The affair with the student resurfaced in 2014, while Scipioni was in the midst of a divorce, when Cornwall-Lebanon School District received an anonymous phone call from someone claiming knowledge of the 2004 relationship.

After an investigation, the school board fired Scipioni in October 2014, his 18th year with the district.

Scipioni’s firing prompted the Cornwall Lebanon Education Association, the union representing district teachers, to file a grievance on his behalf.

After a series of hearings, in August 2015 an arbitrator ruled in favor of Scipioni and ordered that he should be reinstated after being suspended for one year without pay and benefits.

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