SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — A lawsuit filed last month in Marion County alleges that a Salem-Keizer Public Schools teacher sexually abused two of his former students at McNary High School. Now, a third complaint against the teacher has been filed.
According to SKPS, the district received the third complaint against Josh Rist on Sept. 29, two days after the lawsuit was filed — Rist was put on administrative leave on Oct. 2.
Keizer police and the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission received the complaint on Oct. 2, while the Oregon Department of Human Services got notice of the complaint on Monday, the district said.
The lawsuit accuses Rist, 35, of “grooming” and “sexual abuse” between 2015 and 2020 when he worked as a music and choir teacher at McNary High School.
After being put on administrative leave during the sexual misconduct investigation, which went from May 28, 2021 to Aug. 18, 2022, the school district moved Rist to Kalapuya Elementary last fall.
In a video on the district website, SKPS superintendent Andrea Castañeda said that she believes that Rist should never teach again.
“Based on what I know today I do not believe Mr. Rist should be allowed to serve students in the Salem-Keizer School District or anywhere else,” Castañeda said. “To the degree that is under my legal control, I will not reinstate him in a student-facing role,” she said.
Castañeda took over as the SKPS superintendent on July 1. She says she received a briefing on Rist on her first day, but did not know the detailed allegations until Sept. 27.
“If this new complaint proves credible, includes evidence of blurred or crossed boundaries, and has the same characteristics as past complaints, we will take more bold action,” she said.
Additionally, Castañeda pleaded with elected officials to change the law that prohibits relationships between teachers and students until 90 days after a student graduates.
“Our state has a legal loophole, and in that loophole, our laws do not match our community values or ethical standards,” she said. “Mr. Rist attempted to advance a deep relationship with students that was more clearly romantic and sexual only after they were technically no longer considered students in the eyes of the law. The fact that a teacher can legally do this with recent high school graduates is unethical and morally unacceptable…Ninety days is not enough to separate students and teachers, and it is insufficient for the protection of our young people.”
Castañeda also said that she has no reason to believe that Rist engaged in any inappropriate conduct while at Kalapuya Elementary and that he was placed at the school by the district.
On June 8, 2023, Rist signed a stipulation facts document, agreeing that the evidence of the case would support the commission’s findings that he had two inappropriate relationships with two female students while he taught at McNary.
Rist was suspended for 60 days and was placed on a three-year probation after TSPC found that he had engaged in gross negligence of duty.
“This was expressly negotiated between TSPC and Rist’s attorney to have the suspension fall during the summer months, which would prevent the district from taking employment action against Rist for failing to have a teaching license,” said SKPS district spokesperson Aaron Harada.