WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - After an internal investigation finds inappropriate touching and embarrassing role-play in the classroom, a veteran West Fargo teacher will not be returning to Cheney Middle School.
Newly released documents explain why West Fargo Public Schools teacher Dan Machtell was under investigation, and why he submitted his letter of resignation.
The documents detail the investigation into a February 25th, 2019 incident involving Machtell’s behavior with a student, as well as another incident with the same student earlier in the semester.
According to the school district’s report, a female student says Machtell touched her inappropriately when she was the only student left in the classroom. The report says Machtell wanted to explain something the student did wrong during his science lesson, but during his explanation, Machtell touched her back and stomach – making her feel ‘very uncomfortable.’ In an interview with the school district, Machtell is reported as saying he did not recall whether or not he touched the student, but that it was possible.
In a previous instance, Machtell had the same student pretend to be a dog in front of the class. In this incident, Machtell allegedly asked for a volunteer. When the student was chosen, she was told to get on his desk on all fours and sit like a dog. According to the report, Machtell then chose a male student to come up to act as her owner, and touch her on the head. When the male student failed to do it correctly, a female student was then chosen to be the owner – at which point, the student posing as a dog was told to get on the floor while her ‘owner’ pointed out her body parts with a yardstick. She says other students laughed, and she was ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘embarrassed.’
The investigation found that Machtell was ‘insubordinate’ and in violation of the school district’s policy regarding staff-student relations and boundaries.
As a result, Machtell was given the option of submitting a letter of resignation or the school board would consider either not renewing his contract or firing him. Because Machtell chose to resign, he will continue to be paid while he is on administrative leave - through the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year. The West Fargo School Board accepted his resignation during their Monday, March 11th meeting. Machtell was with the school district for nearly 30 years.
This wasn't Machtell's first incident of inappropriate touching in the classroom. He was also written up for touching a student while trying to explain anatomy during the 2014 - 2015 school year.