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District: Tabiona teacher fired for 'inappropriate physical contact' with student

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 11:29 a.m. MDT

A Tabiona High School teacher who is the subject of a police investigation has been fired by the Duchesne County School District for having A Tabiona High School teacher who is the subject of a police investigation has been fired by the Duchesne County School District for having "improper or unlawful physical contact with students," according to a termination letter. (, )

TABIONA, Duchesne County — A Tabiona High School teacher who is the subject of a police investigation has been fired by the Duchesne County School District.

In a Dec. 17 termination letter, district officials informed Shay Alfred Price that his employment with the district would end Jan. 20, due to "immorality," "insubordination," "conduct which may be harmful to students or to the district" and "improper or unlawful physical contact with students."

The letter — obtained by the Deseret News through a request for public records — states Price sent "improper texts with revealing pictures to and from a student" and had "inappropriate physical contact with a student." It also states Price refused to cooperate with the district's internal investigation and lied to administrators "in a prior investigation of similar matters."

As part of its public records request, the Deseret News was allowed to review Price's personnel file. Nothing in the file indicated that Price had been the subject of a "prior investigation" of any sort.

Bruce Guymon, director of student services for the school district, said an allegation of inappropriate conduct with a student was made against Price "several" years ago, but there was insufficient evidence at the time to support the claim.

"It didn't rise to the level of placing something in his personnel file," Guymon said, adding that the information contained in the termination letter was gathered during an internal district investigation.

Price, 34, had worked at Tabiona High since 2004. In addition to teaching career and technology education classes, he has also coached baseball, boys basketball and track. He was put on paid administrative leave Dec. 13, according to a separate letter in his personnel file. Four days later, he was suspended without pay pending termination.

The Duchesne County Sheriff's Office will not confirm or deny whether Price is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, or even confirm that an investigation is underway.

But Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote has acknowledged that two sheriff's investigators have interviewed Price. He was questioned but not arrested, Foote said.

"We received information from the school district, and the sheriff's office was tasked with investigating those allegations," the prosecutor said Tuesday.

Foote confirmed the allegations pertain to claims that Price may have sent inappropriate text messages to a student and may have had improper physical contact with a student.

"We are investigating that," Foote said.

Price's attorney, Loni DeLand, said he has contacted Foote's office several times since mid-December to ask about the progress of the case. He said he's been told prosecutors are still waiting for sheriff's investigators to submit their final report before deciding whether any charges should be filed.

DeLand did not represent Price in the administrative matter, but said he told his client not to talk to school district investigators because the criminal probe was still ongoing. He questioned how district officials reached the conclusions they did, when the sheriff's investigation is still incomplete.

"If they don't have the police report, how do they justify making all those allegations of immorality and inappropriate contact with a student?" DeLand said.

Price did not appeal his termination, Guymon said. The deadline to do so has passed.

Email: gliesik@deseretnews.com Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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