Teacher's 'kissing game' leads to review of New Hampshire school district

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 11, 2014 5:19 PM

By Ted Siefer

MANCHESTER N.H. (Reuters) - A school district in southern New Hampshire is overhauling its sexual harassment policies after U.S. officials found a male high school teacher played a "kissing game" with students and made sexually charged comments, a city official said on Thursday.

The Portsmouth school district had been due this week to unveil a new, more rigorous sexual harassment policy but delayed it while officials respond to requests to modify it by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

"We've conducted training of staff on how to investigate claims of sexual harassment, and we've done training for the incoming freshman class," said Kathleen Dwyer, attorney for the affluent coastal city.

The federal review stemmed from a complaint from a parent in November 2012 who accused a Portsmouth High School Spanish teacher of playing a game called "peso-beso," in which students could either get a coin (peso) or give a kiss (beso) when they answered a question correctly.

The teacher also "made regular jokes about pornography" and "joked about being a sex offender to keep trick-or-treaters away on Halloween," according to the Department of Education.

The teacher was suspended after the initial complaint but has resumed teaching following training, city officials said.

The school district is facing a separate civil lawsuit following the conviction in 2013 of a school employee who was accused of manipulating a 14-year-old student into a sexual relationship. The suit accuses the district of being remiss in protecting the student.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Walsh)