Educator-oversight commission: Former Marsh Valley superintendent fails to respond to ethical complaint

Former Marsh Valley Superintendent Marvin Hansen has failed to answer allegations outlined in a formal complaint that he violated Idaho’s educator code of ethics, leaving the door open for the state’s education-oversight commission to potentially revoke his teaching and administrative certificates, according to documents obtained by Idaho Education News through a public record request.

A default order, drafted by the Idaho Professional Standards Commission and dated June 24, outlines Hansen’s failure to answer a February administrative complaint filed with the commission. The complaint alleges that Hansen had sex with his former administrative assistant in the Marsh Valley School District building on numerous occasions during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, that the encounters took place during work hours and in a school district vehicle.

Marvin Hansen

The complaint also outlines PSC Chief Administrative Officer Lisa Colón Durham’s request that the commission revoke Hansen’s certifications or hold a hearing to allow Hansen to present evidence concerning the allegations.

Hansen requested a hearing regarding the matter in March, along with any evidence the commission had compiled against him, documents show. As a result, the commission scheduled a June 23 hearing.

Yet Hansen’s failure to file an “answer” to the PSC administrative complaint put him in “default,” a situation that allows proceedings related to the complaint to proceed without his participation, according to a June 24 letter deputy attorney general Karen Sheehan shared with Hansen and the PSC.

The PSC appointed Sheehan on June 1 to preside over Hansen’s case.

It’s unclear whether Hansen intentionally allowed the matter to reach default status. In March, he emailed State Department of Education Background Records and Ethics Specialist Annette Schwab and asked if he could simply “withdraw his credential” in order to keep the PSC from publishing allegations against him “on the web,” according to emails EdNews obtained through a records request.

“You can surrender your certificate, but the PSC will still publish findings from its investigation, which will be public,” Schwab responded, adding that Hansen could also do nothing, which would result in default proceedings to take action against his certificates.

Despite Hansen’s default status, the PSC must still decide whether to revoke Hansen’s certificates. That will likely happen during the PSC’s next scheduled meeting for Sept. 16 and 17, Schwab told EdNews Tuesday.

The PSC oversees ethical disciplinary matters in Idaho. The State Board of Education appoints its members to three-year terms.

Hansen worked as Marsh Valley’s superintendent for 16 years before being demoted to an administrative assistant position earlier this school year. Trustees, who disciplined Hansen in June for related ethical violations, bought out his contract for $27,500 on Feb. 9.

Hansen has admitted to ethical violations

The default order marks the latest in an ongoing saga over Hansen’s purported actions during his time leading the district.

Last year, Hansen was embroiled in a sexual harassment complaint filed by a former district employee. Trustees hired an independent investigator to probe the complaint. The investigator concluded Hansen’s relationship with the former employee “did not amount to sexual harassment under district policy” but that a “sexual relationship existed” between the two.

Marsh Valley trustees demoted Hansen for ethical violations in June and gave him a new contract with reduced pay. Hansen later admitted on Facebook to misusing a district car and cell phone but did not mention a sexual relationship with an employee.

In June, a man attacked Hansen with a baseball bat outside the Marsh Valley district office. David Battson, 50, complained that Hansen had “forced himself sexually” on his wife and that attacking the superintendent was a way to “take care of it,” police said.

Battson pleaded guilty to battery last summer.

The beating left Hansen in the hospital, though he was treated and released.

In January, Hansen filed a tort claim against the school district, alleging that trustees forced him out on sick leave after demoting him for ethical violations.

The tort claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, asks for $300,000 in “special damages” and $200,000 in “general damages” for Hansen. A separation agreement, which outlined Hansen’s $27,500 contract buyout, released the district from any liabilities outlined in the tort claim and ended Hansen’s employment with the district.

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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