After allegedly touching the thigh of a 15-year-old female student in October, Hilliard Davidson High School teacher Shawn M. Parsell has resigned and will forfeit his Ohio teaching license per a plea agreement between Hilliard’s city prosecutor and the defendant announced Monday, Feb. 10.
Parsell submitted a handwritten resignation letter dated Feb. 7 to Hilliard City Schools leaders, and the school board on Feb. 10 voted 5-0 to accept it after a 23-minute executive session.
Board President Mark Abate said he had no comment after the vote.
Hilliard prosecutor Dawn Steele had announced the plea agreement at 3 p.m. Feb. 10, eight days before Parsell was to be arraigned in Franklin County Municipal Court on one count of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor.
The charge was for the alleged touching, which was reported to have occurred at Davidson.
According to the agreement, Parsell, a 46-year-old Hilliard resident, had to resign from the Hilliard City Schools, cannot contest the revocation of his Ohio teaching license and never may seek or accept a position involving caretaking of minors. The district will ask the Ohio Department of Education to revoke Parsell’s teaching license.
In exchange, the city plans to dismiss the charge of sexual imposition.
Steele said the plea agreement protects students and ensures Parsell never would be in a position of authority over minors in an Ohio school district.
The plea agreement also considered the student, she said.
“Resolving this in a way that protected an already traumatized juvenile victim from being forced to testify was important to the parents, the school and (Hilliard),” Steele said in a statement. “The city felt it was in the best interest of the community and the victim for Parsell to resign from teaching immediately, not have the opportunity to be in a position of authority over minors in the future and not involve a victim in a lengthy court process.”
Steele said the plea agreement also will allow "a resolution to the charges without a potentially lengthy and expensive arbitration process" for the school district.
Superintendent John Marschhausen said in a statement the agreement “brings closure to a difficult chapter for our school community.”
“Our district is committed to swift action when allegations of misconduct are made, not only to mitigate any potential risk but also to allow time for a thorough investigation and appropriate action by state agencies,” he said.
The Franklin County Municipal Court Clerk’s website first listed an open case against Parsell on Feb. 4.
The charge filed by a Hilliard Division of Police officer was for sexual imposition against a victim “13/14/15 years old,” according to the court entry.
“The charge stems from one incident, and there are no more charges expected at this time,” Hilliard police spokeswoman Andrea Litchfield previously told ThisWeek.
The incident reported by the 15-year-old girl occurred Oct. 15, 2019, at Davidson, according to the police report. The report narrative said the “subject reported they were assaulted while at listed location.”
The court complaint included in the police report alleged Parsell “did touch the thigh” of the 15-year-old, and the report redacted the gender of the victim.
However, the Feb. 10 news release from the city specified the victim was female.
Parsell was arrested by Hilliard police Feb. 3 at the Joint Safety Services Building in Hilliard, according to the police report.
He had been on paid administrative leave from Dec. 17 to Feb. 3 for an unrelated incident in which he was accused of posting an “inappropriate” link on Canvas, a student-course website.
The nature of the “inappropriate” link was not revealed by the district, but a parent sent ThisWeek a recording of a student navigating the Canvas app on a smartphone. The video records curriculum modules being accessed in a world-studies class labeled “Parsell,” and one of the links titled “French Revolution” leads to what appears to be an external pornographic website.
Parsell’s salary is $94,793, and his benefits are valued at $34,871.03, according to Stacie Raterman, the district’s director of communications.
Raterman said Parsell was removed from paid administrative leave Feb. 3 and placed on unpaid leave.
One day later, Davidson principal Aaron Cookson wrote in a Feb. 4 letter provided by the district that “new and unrelated allegations raised about inappropriate behavior.”
ThisWeek has been unable to reach Parsell for comment during his leave.
Mary Kennedy, president of the Hilliard Education Association, on Feb. 5 said Parsell denied the charges.
“While student safety is always our highest priority, we believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “Mr. Parsell denies the allegations against him, and the Hilliard Education Association will advocate on behalf of its member to ensure that he receives all of his due-process rights.”
Parsell was reassigned to Davidson for the 2019-20 school year in April as a social-studies teacher, according to district records. He has worked for the district for more than two decades, according to his personnel file.
Dec. 17 was not the first time Parsell had been placed on paid administrative leave.
On Feb. 8, 2018, Marschhausen had sent a letter to Parsell, informing him he was placed on paid administrative leave and directing him “to remain off school grounds.”
A letter from Marschhausen to Parsell on Dec. 19, 2017, also advised Parsell he was placed on paid administrative leave and directed him to remain off school grounds and to not have contact with students or staff.
Parsell was a teacher at Bradley High School prior to Davidson and served as the girls volleyball coach at Bradley, according to district records.
In a Jan. 23, 2018, email to Cort Hamilton, Bradley athletics director, Parsell wrote “the administration decided to go another direction” with Bradley’s program and “effective immediately I am no longer the head coach.”
District records also indicate that Parsell on Feb. 25 entered into a “last-chance agreement” signed by Parsell, Marschhausen and Kennedy.
The agreement said Parsell “engaged in inappropriate and unprofessional conduct toward a student who is transgender by directing the student to change clothes even though the student had not violated the student dress code” and threatened to call the student’s parent.
The agreement said Parsell denied making the comments but entered into the agreement “to resolve the differences” with the district.
The agreement also indicates Parsell’s paid administrative leave was converted to an unpaid suspension and further stipulated that if Parsell “engages in any further misconduct of any kind,” the school board “shall have the right and just cause to terminate his employment.”
Check ThisWeekNEWS.com/Hilliard for updates to this story.