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Fargo middle school teacher resigns after accusations of inappropriate classroom conduct

John Raaen had been with the district for nearly two decades, most recently at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School.

FARGO — John Raaen's resignation came six days after he received a letter telling him that principal Bradley Larson was going to ask Superintendent Rupak Gandhi to fire him for cause.

The two-page document from the Human Resources director Doug Andring describes the concerning nature of the allegations, and a disturbing pattern of conduct demonstrated by eighth-grade social studies teacher.

The district investigated new complaints made against Raaen, accusing him of unwanted physical and verbal actions towards students.

The allegations accuse him of rubbing and touching female students' backs, shoulders and arms and moving their hair.

School investigators say Raaen didn't deny the allegations, but said he only touched between their neck and shoulders, and did it to tell girls, 'good job' or to 'settle down.'

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He's also accused of making suggestive, sexual remarks that made the learning environment uncomfortable.

While the investigation found Raaen's behavior didn't rise to the level of a Title 9 violation, it says it did violate the the non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy.

It also pointed to a pattern of conduct dating back several years which included two previous complaints also in Raaen's file.

In 2015, Raaen was ordered to undergo counseling after he was written up for slapping a student on the butt in front of another teacher at a concession stand. The letter noted he apologized minutes later to the student.

In 2016, he was placed on administrative leave for two days after he allegedly told a student they were hot and made an inappropriate gesture with his hands. Documents say it was caught on camera.

Raaen did not respond to a request for comment.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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