OAK CREEK, Wis. - The former Oak Creek High School teacher charged with sexually assaulting a student tried getting the school district to remove its investigation from her personnel file.
Milwaukee County prosecutors charged Rachel Goodle, 22, in July with second degree sexual assault of a child and sex assault of a student by school staff. The alleged incident happened Dec. 2, 2022.
FOX6 News first learned of the allegations in June and filed an open records request with the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District for Goodle's personnel file, because she was a public employee at the time.
State law required the district to inform Goodle of the request. In July, Goodle sued the district to block the release of her records.
Her attorney argued releasing the records could impede her right to a fair trial.
In November, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge David Borowski disagreed. He found the court lacked jurisdiction because Goodle's attorney did not properly file or serve a summons.
But if he'd had jurisdiction, Borowski wrote his decision would be the same, because, "Goodle failed to prove there is a legitimate public policy concern for a fair trial".
FOX6 News received Goodle's personnel file, including a copy of the investigation into her alleged misconduct, on Feb. 8.
Surveillance video shows "unacceptable and inappropriate conduct"
The Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District began Dec. 15, 2022, after students sent photo and video evidence to the district.
The 19-page report lists Oak Creek High School Principal Candis Mongan, Oak Creek Ninth Grade Center Principal Keith Ruffolo and the district's Human Resources Director Troy Hamblin as lead investigators. Goodle worked in the high school's Ninth Grade Center as an English teacher.
On Dec. 16, 2022, the report said Ruffolo interviewed Goodle and asked her if she was ever alone with a student. Goodle responded that she is always with two or three kids, that she's never been alone with a student, and that her classroom door is always open when students are in there, according to the report.
Yet, a review of surveillance video provided by the school district, which was used as part of the investigation, contradicts that.
On Dec. 2, 2022, Goodle is seen leaving the school after classes are done wearing a sweatshirt and pants.
She returns around an hour later wearing a dress. The student can be seen waiting for Goodle in her classroom.
Surveillance video captures Goodle enter the classroom and close the door.
Almost 20 minutes later, a member of the cleaning crew is seen using keys to unlock the door and go in. She told investigators she believed Goodle and the student were mother and son, and that she did not see anything romantic between them, per the report.
In all, Goodle and the student are inside the classroom for 53 minutes before they're seen walking to a JV basketball game together.
A surveillance camera in the gym shows the pair walk past the student section and sit together on the bleachers. A group of students all turn their heads and follow Goodle and the student as they walk by.
The report said students told investigators they believed Goodle and the student were on a date. They sat together at the game for more than two hours before exiting the gym together and going their separate ways.
District investigators interviewed Goodle three times, and in the report, they compiled 11 inaccurate statements she made during those interviews.
For example, on Jan. 4, 2023, she told Hamblin she did not go to the game with the student, when surveillance cameras show the opposite.
Investigators asked both Goodle, the student, and the student's parents whether she had sex with the student. Goodle and the student denied the allegation, while the parents told the district they didn't believe the two had sex.
Still, the district found Goodle in volation of the employee handbook because of her "unacceptable and inappropriate conduct".
"It is very clear that [Goodle] provided numerous inaccurate statements and omitted numerous facts throughout this investigation in what appears to be an attempt to cover up a relationship beyond that of a typical student and a typical teacher," the report said. "Perhaps there is another explanation for her obstruction of the investigation. She has not told us what that might be."
Ultimately, the district recommends suspending Goodle for 10 days initially, while giving her the option to reduce it to 5 days if she comes forward with more information.
The district also cast doubt about her ability to effectively return to teaching.
"It is the administration's belief that [Goodle's] reputation is forever tarnished and how she is viewed by students will be different than other teachers," the report said.
"However, if [Goodle] wants to try, we will accommodate her, and allow her to return to teaching," it said.
District reduces suspension, offers 'scatter' plan
On the final page of its report, the district outlined its suspension plan for Goodle.
Instead of a consecutive suspension, the district decided to scatter the suspension days across Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, to, "attempt to limit the impact on any one paycheck".
Goodle reported back to work on Jan. 13, 2023, with a 'Plan of Support' to help her with classroom management and professionalism.
On Jan. 18, 2023, Goodle filed a grievance with the district about the suspension.
"After investigation, Mr. Hamblin determined there was no evidence of any improper relationship, but rather than focus on "facts" in his investigation, Mr. Hamblin made determinations of those facts, suggesting I was not forthfright and that he had proof of my improper conduct," Goodle wrote.
"Mr. Hamblin presented me with the option of a 10-day suspension or a 5-day suspension if I agreed to disclose everything to my principal. I have already disclosed everything and do not believe that Mr. Hamblin would have treated a male teacher the same way," Goodle said.
On Feb. 7, 2023, then-Superintendent Dan Unertl wrote Goodle back.
Unertl reduced Goodle's suspension from 10 days to four, following her explanation during a Feb. 1, 2023, meeting with Unertl.
"I believe you to be sincere in your explanation of what you have learned from this entire situation," Unertl wrote. "I am very hopeful for brighter days ahead..."
The superintendent also declined Goodle's request to destroy or remove the investigation from her file, saying it would be "improper" to do so.
Criminal charges come after comment, police involvement
While the school district investigated the allegations of an inappropriate relationship, the high school's school resource officer began asking about the case.
Officer Zachary Case wrote on Jan. 6, 2023, that he had heard rumors about a student being in a relationship with a teacher. He wrote that no school officials came forward to him with the information.
In a police report, Case said he asked Mongan and Hamblin about the allegations. They informed him that both the student and teacher denied the allegations, and that the student's parents didn't believe the allegations either.
That changed on May 19, 2023.
Case said the high school requested Oak Creek Police formally investigate the possible relationship between Goodle and a student, after a teacher heard the student yell, "That's why I cheated on you with a teacher."
Police interviewed the student on May 24, 2023, at the high school.
Case said the student first denied anything happened, before eventually admitting the two had sex in Dec. 2022 and inside her classroom.
Officers arrested Goodle on June 14.
Milwaukee County prosecutors formally charged her on July 20, and Goodle pleaded not guilty to the charges in August.
The 22-year-old is due back in court on Feb. 19 for a final pre-trial hearing. The trial is set to begin on April 22.