Pasco fourth-grade teacher under investigation for inappropriate touching

Edwin Markham Elementary School is at 4031 Elm Road about 12 miles north of the I-182 interchange for Road 68 in Pasco.
Edwin Markham Elementary School is at 4031 Elm Road about 12 miles north of the I-182 interchange for Road 68 in Pasco. Tri-City Herald

A fourth-grade teacher is on leave for the second time this school year on allegations he inappropriately touched female students.

Rudy Hunter Hoglen has been on administrative leave from Edwin Markham Elementary School since the third week in March, according to the parent of a student.

The parent, whose daughter is one of the girls to report inappropriate touching by her teacher, told the Tri-City Herald that Hoglen also was out for at least a month at the start of the school year on possibly similar allegations.

He described the touching of his daughter as leaning close to the girl while she’s doing school work in class, grabbing her around the waist, rubbing her belly and putting his hands on her thighs.

He said he’s heard from parents that at least two other girls have made similar complaints.

Hired by Pasco in 2016

The Herald could not find a phone number for Hoglen to contact him about the allegations.

Online records for the Pasco School District show he was first hired on a provisional contract in August 2016.

Shane Edinger, the district’s public affairs director, confirmed that Hoglen currently is on leave but declined to say why.

“To protect employee privacy, we don’t share any other information about employee leaves,” said Edinger.

Markham Elementary is about 12 miles north of Pasco near Mathews Corner.

Edwin Markham sign.jpg
Edwin Markham Elementary School is at 4031 Elm Road about 12 miles north of the I-182 interchange for Road 68 in Pasco. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond told the Herald that a detective has been assigned “to try to gather all the facts up and figure out what’s going on.”

Teacher placed on leave

Raymond said it appears the school district handled the first alleged incident in-house and his office was not notified.

This time, the school district filed a report with the sheriff’s office a couple of weeks ago, he said.

“My understanding is that any alleged victims are safe,” said Raymond. “That (the district) has placed their employee out on administrative leave until we can get it looked at.”

The parent — who is not being named because his daughter may be the victim of a sex crime — said the school’s vice principal immediately contacted him in late March to say there was an issue with possible inappropriate touching, that his daughter was taken out of the classroom that day after it came to light, and that the teacher was now on leave.

The father said he followed that up with an email asking to be kept in the loop. He then heard from the district’s assistant superintendent of legal affairs saying they were waiting for law enforcement to do a separate investigation.

He said school officials would not tell him if other parents were advised of the reason for Hoglen’s leave.

‘Sweep it under the rug’

“I just get worried that they’re going to try to sweep it under the rug ...,” he said.

The father said there was no official explanation at the start of the school year as to Hoglen’s absence, but her heard there were allegations of inappropriate touching. He admits being initially skeptical, thinking maybe kids were making it up.

Then, a few months into the year, the father reports that his daughter started acting weird and didn’t want to go to school.

The student was forced to meet with the school counselor after getting in trouble on the bus, which he said was out of character.

She was asked about bullying or problems at home, and that’s when the girl disclosed that she was really uncomfortable with her teacher, said the father.

The girl told her parents she was petrified earlier about speaking up and getting into trouble, but now realizes she did the right thing and is happier at school.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.