Teacher removed at Central
Pa. panel revokes his certificate BY K. SCOTT KREIDER, Correspondent
A Manheim Central elementary school teacher who was cleared of sex-abuse charges in 2010 was removed from Stiegel Elementary last week.
Fourth-grade teacher Matthew Deppen was placed on unpaid leave Jan. 18 after the Pennsylvania Department of Education revoked his teaching certificate.
"At the present time, Mr. Deppen is not in the school setting, is not allowed on school property and is in an unpaid leave status," school board president Bryan Howett said in an email Thursday. "By law, at this point in time, Mr. Deppen is not permitted to teach in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
After 14 months of confidential hearings, the state Professional Standards and Practices Commission voted to revoke Deppen's teaching certification Jan. 17.
According to Howett, PDE did not notify the district about the revocation until the next day.
"In less than an hour, the superintendent of schools was in contact with the district's solicitor, and within a few minutes after that, Mr. Deppen was removed from the school setting," Howett said in an email.
Deppen could not be reached for comment.
On its website, the Department of Education cited as grounds for discipline that the educator had "engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behavior, which included secretly videotaping children undressing," pulling down an adolescent girl's bathing suit bottoms and exposing himself on multiple occasions.
PDE had suspended Deppen's certificate several years ago, when he was charged with sexual abuse and attempted sexual abuse of children stemming from a 2004 incident in which he videotaped children undressing in his home.
Deppen also faced a second set of charges from a separate incident, including endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, invasion of privacy and indecent assault.
During the criminal trial in October 2010, Deppen maintained that he did not intend to video record the girls changing their clothes; rather, the video was supposed to record their reaction when he surprised them wearing a monkey mask.
Deppen also testified that his wife immediately took the video and, six years later, turned it in to police when the couple were going through a divorce.
Deppen was found not guilty of sexual abuse and attempted sexual abuse charges.
Other charges were dropped because of lack of evidence.
After Deppen's criminal charges were cleared, PDE restored his teaching credentials, and the Manheim Central school board reinstated him as a teacher at Stiegel Elementary for the 2011-12 school year.
Howett said in an email that when Deppen had his credentials restored and there were no further charges against him, the district had no legal basis to prevent Deppen from returning to his teaching position.
Since then, subsequent administrative charges were filed against him to determine whether administrative action should be taken against his certification, Howett said.
"PDE is entitled to conduct its own investigation into the matter prior to filing administrative charges," Howett said.
"There are different standards of proof in administrative hearings versus criminal hearings."
Howett said that Deppen has the right to appeal the decision of the Professional Standards and Practices Commission.
Lt. George Pappas of Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department handled the case for the former Penn Township police department in 2010.
Pappas said Thursday that he could not comment because it was a district personnel issue.
Fred Cummins, interim district superintendent, was unavailable to comment on whether a letter was sent to notify parents of Deppen's removal.
Business Manager Nathan Wertsch said he was not involved in handling the issue, but he recalled Thursday a letter being drafted.