Plano Star-courier > News
Teacher was investigated for emailing student three years before arrest
The Hunt Elementary teacher who was arrested in October 2012 for inappropriately touching a student was investigated three years ago after a student complained an email he sent to her made her feel uncomfortable.
According to a district inquiry into the incident, a third-grader told her parents and a teacher she began to feel uncomfortable around gym coach Todd Allen Reich, 39, of Plano, after he sent an email to her MyPISD account reading, "Who is the coolest teacher in the world???" on Dec. 2, 2009.
The investigative report, obtained by The Plano Star Courier through a public information request, states Reich was instructed not to have further contact with the student after a Dec. 17, 2009 meeting with then-Principal Linda Engelking and the student's parents.
However, the report states, Reich defied the order and attempted to speak with the student after his class on Jan. 22, 2010. The student declined and later told her parents Reich grabbed the back of her shirt during the exchange.
In a statement to district investigator Bart Rosebure dated Feb. 1, 2010, Reich wrote he asked the student for permission before sending the email, adding he developed a "special bond" with the student over the past three years and met with her almost daily. He went on to write the student was shy, "always seemed to look sad," and would frequently come to him with issues going on in her life outside of class.
Reich denied any physical contact with the student in the weeks prior to the statement and said most contact before that timeframe was playful, including gently stepping on her toes and jokingly flicking her nose or allowing to the student to "playfully slap my arm or kick me for fun."
"Mr. Rosebure, I know that I not done nothing illegal [sic], or anything to physically or mentally harm a child however; I feel that even with good intentions, I have brought this cause for concern on myself by making poor moral choices and not listening," Reich's statement reads. "I realize this as I have been, as they say, 'scared straight' down to my core."
A statement from Engelking attached to the report says the student also complained that Reich called her a "derogatory name" and made a face at her the same day he asked her to stay after class. Other students present during the incident were unable to corroborate the name-calling and faces Reich allegedly made toward the student. One of the students did confirm hearing the coach ask to meet with the student after class and the student "saying something about needing to talk to her mother."
Campus security camera footage from the day of the alleged shirt-grabbing incident appears to show Reich touching the student's upper back area, the report reads, but does not show Reich grabbing her shirt. The report states Reich was called for a follow-up interview "due to discrepancies between Mr. Reich's statement and other evidence," but does not detail what was discussed during that interview.
The investigation concluded Reich did have physical contact with the student but it was "not malicious" or in violation of state law and that the student did not receive bodily injury. However, the report concludes that because the contact "did not further an educational purpose," it was inappropriate and in violation of district policy. The report also concluded Reich's email to the student did not violate district policy.
In a Jan. 27, 2010 letter to the district requesting the investigation, Engelking states the parents also accused Reich of asking the student not to tell her parents about his attempt to speak with her. The letter also states Reich signed a directive to not speak to the child or contact her family on Jan. 22.
On Jan. 25, the letter reads, Engelking devised a plan for the student to "not attend any class taught by the male coach." Reich was given another verbal directive the same day to not speak to the student or her parents under any circumstances. He was also told to never "put his hands on this child or any student" or "never tell a student that they are not to tell a parent about anything he spoke to them," the letter reads.
Reich was arrested Oct. 16 after a student alleged he inappropriately touched her between December 2009 and February 2010. He was indicted Feb. 12 on two counts each of indecency with a child and improper relationship with a student, both state jail felonies. He will make his first court appearance March 15.
Reich is the second Hunt teacher arrested for indecency with a student. Kindergarten teacher Joseph Garbarini, who was sentenced to 62 years in prison in October 2011, was arrested on similar charges in May 2010.
Reich's attorney, Kirk Lechtenberger, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Timeline of events
Dec. 2, 2009: Email sent from Todd Reich to a third-grade student reading, 'Who is the coolest teacher in the world???'
Dec. 17, 2009: Students' parents meet with Reich and Principal Linda Engelking. Reich agrees to no longer pull the student aside and speak to her privately.
Dec. 22, 2009: Reich asks student to stay after class to speak with him. Reich is asked about the incident and signs a directive agreeing not to speak to the child or her family.
Jan. 25, 2009: In a meeting with Engelking, the student's parents allege Reich grabbed the back of the student's shirt while asking her to meet with him on Dec. 22. They also allege he asked the student not to tell her parents about the exchange.
Jan. 25, 2009: Engelking makes plans to keep the student out of Reich's classes. Reich is given another verbal directive to stay away from the student and not touch any student or ask a student to not tell a parent about any discussions with him.
Jan. 27, 2009: Engelking requests district investigation.
Feb. 15, 2010: Investigation completed. The district concludes Reich did have physical contact with the student, but it was "not malicious" or in violation of state law. However, the report concludes the contact was inappropriate for an educator and in violation of district policy. The email Reich sent the student is ruled to not be in violation of district policy.
Oct. 16, 2012: Reich arrested by Collin County Sheriff's deputies for allegedly touching a student inappropriately between December 2009 and February 2010.
March 15, 2013: Reich's first appearance in court from Oct. 16 arrest.