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Teacher suspended for Internet use

by Merrie Leininger

Veteran Douglas High School teacher Burr Otto was suspended without pay for the rest of the school year and will be reassigned in the fall because of “unprofessional conduct” in accessing adult Internet sites in his classroom, the Douglas County School District reported Friday.

In statement issued late in the afternoon by communications liaison Maggie Allen, the district said Otto was suspended for the rest of the school year and would be reassigned in the fall to a teaching position at the Stateline Juvenile Detention Center. By law, the district is allowed to suspend teachers without pay for up to 20 days.

“The Douglas County School District and Mr. Walter Otto, through their respective legal counsel, have reached a disciplinary resolution concerning Mr. Otto’s unprofessional conduct in accessing adult Internet sites, utilizing a computer assigned to his classroom at Douglas High School,” said Allen in the statement.

– No criminal violation. The agreement was reached after the district’s legal counsel advised the school board that there have been no criminal violations. That meant that Otto could not be fired under state law.

“Nevertheless, under this resolution, Mr. Otto will be suspended for the maximum time allowed by law and not returned to a teaching position during the current school year,” Allen said in the statement.

Assistant Superintendent of Personnel John Soderman said the district had placed a teacher part time at the juvenile detention center this year, but she had been unable to continue because of health problems.

Otto will teach full-time starting in the fall. Soderman said he will not have his salary cut or increased due to the change in position. Soderman said he did not immediately know Otto’s salary, but said he had been working for the district for about 20 years.

Otto was a history teacher at DHS.