No criminal charges will be filed against a Kopachuck Middle School teacher accused of participating in classroom bullying captured on student cellphones, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Tuesday.
Videos of the February incident showed students carrying an eighth-grade boy around by his arms and legs, trapping him beneath overturned chairs and more. At times, teacher John Rosi joined in, the videos showed.
But prosecutors said Tuesday that the Peninsula School District teacher’s behavior did not rise to the level of a crime.
“While this is unacceptable conduct in a classroom, it’s not criminal conduct under the law,” Lindquist said in a news release.
“Mr. Rosi didn’t break any criminal law,” said Rosi’s attorney, Bryan Hershman. “What he did didn’t even approach it.”
Hershman said that what has happened to Rosi is unfair, and that video clips shown by the news media don’t tell the whole story. He said the entire footage shows “a teacher being loved by his students.” He said he’s received letters from people in the community lauding Rosi’s teaching abilities.
Attorney Joan Mell represents the boy in the video – now a student in a private school – and his parents, Randy and Karla Kinney.
She said her clients have discussed taking their complaint against Rosi to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, which can issue a reprimand, or revoke or suspend a teacher’s certificate.
Asked if her clients were considering filing a lawsuit against Rosi or the school district, Mell said no decision would be made until she has a chance to talk to her clients.
Jared Ausserer, team chief of the prosecutor’s special assault unit, said the boy was interviewed by an independent expert from Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. Ausserer said he spoke with the interviewer and read her summary of the conversation. He concluded that the boy had not disclosed any criminal behavior and indicated that the incident involved students joking around. Ausserer said the boy also said Rosi intervened at times, making sure the behavior did not go too far.
As a result of the February incident, Rosi was suspended for 10 days without pay by the school district. The 50-year-old veteran teacher was initially reassigned to teach at Harbor Ridge Middle School for the start of the current school year. But after the video clips went public, district officials placed him on paid leave, fearing the controversy would disrupt education at Harbor Ridge.
Rosi is still on paid administrative leave.
Acting Peninsula Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto said Tuesday that the district, its legal advisers and the school board will need to review available information before deciding what happens next.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635