PALM BAY, Florida – A Bayside High School math teacher who resigned after being accused of kissing a student on three separate occasions during school hours has appealed the Brevard County Public Schools’ decision to flag his employee file as “ineligible for rehire.”
According to a Palm Bay Police Department investigation, the female student was leaving her Algebra I class with other students after the bell rang on the last day of school in May 2017. That’s when her teacher, 53-year-old Ronald LaLeau, allegedly called her back into the classroom.
The student told police that LaLeau said she was his favorite student and then gave her a hug “which was not unusual as he gave her and other students hugs all the time.”
As the embrace ended, the teacher allegedly kissed the girl and stuck his tongue in her mouth to perform a “French kiss.”
The student said that she then pulled away from LaLeau and the two stared at each other. She then turned and walked out of the classroom.
Afterwards, the student said she received a text from LaLeau asking if her boyfriend was going to play basketball that afternoon. The student said that she didn’t reply to the text.
Later that afternoon, the student and her boyfriend were walking home when LaLeau pulled up in a car and asked the students if they wanted a ride which they accepted. The girl told police that LaLeau had never offered her a ride before.
In subsequent police interviews, the student told police of two other occasions when LaLeau allegedly kissed her on the mouth.
The girl said that on the second alleged kissing, the teacher told her that “it was probably inappropriate for him to kiss her.”
The girl also told police that on another occasion, LaLeau told her how pretty she was and told her the she “has a pretty stomach” one day when she wore a mid-drift shirt.
According to the student, LaLeau asked to see her stomach on another occasion when she wore a full-length shirt, but she refused.
During an interview with police, LaLeau said that he felt the child had a “crush on him” and that she initiated the kissing. LaLeau said that he told the student it was inappropriate to kiss him during the second incident, but admitted that he failed to notify BPS Human Resources about the incidents, which he was required to do.
In July 2017, LaLeau appeared at the Brevard Public Schools Security Office with his Brevard Federation of Teacher’s Union representative, Dan Bennett, for an administrative interview where LaLeau tendered his resignation.
After his resignation, BPS flagged his employee file as “ineligible for rehire” without a formal hearing because LaLeau resigned at the beginning of the administrative process.
In June 2018, LaLeau appealed the Brevard County Public Schools’ “ineligible for rehire” determination.
BPS School Superintendent Desmond Blackburn recommended to the School Board that the appeal be denied.
“Last time I checked the law, a child is without the ability to initiate or consent sexual behaviour with an adult,” Blackburn told the School Board during a meeting on June 28, 2018.
“So I believe, rightfully so, [we] move to restrict him from being re-employed of this particular district. But also keep that flag on his record so that if he tries to be employed with another school agency or any other form of employment that would put him with the ability to do harm to another kid, I pray that that other school district or agency gives us a call and asks why that flag is there.”
The School Board then voted to deny the teacher’s appeal.