Jackson Local Schools Superintendent Chris DiLoreto attempted to shed light on the decisions he made on the day police Chief David Zink alerted him that a federal search warrant would be executed at the home of one of his employees, 46-year-old Scott D. Studer, who is accused of videotaping dozens of student athletes in the showers inside the boys’ locker room at Jackson High School.
Chris DiLoreto’s phone rang shortly after 5:30 a.m. last Wednesday. On the other end, police Chief David Zink alerted the Jackson Local Schools superintendent that a federal search warrant would be executed at the home of one of his employees, 46-year-old Scott D. Studer.
What followed, DiLoreto told the school board, parents and students Tuesday night, was a hectic day that involved securing any areas of the school that Studer had access to, deciding how to address parents and students, and determining Studer’s job status.
Studer, a longtime district employee and freshman boys basketball coach, remains behind bars at the Stark County Jail on multiple counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
He is accused of videotaping dozens of student athletes in the showers inside the boys’ locker room at Jackson High. He faces both state and federal charges.
As of Tuesday, police had identified 60 boys on the videos, which date back eight years. Studer, of 5141 Pin Oak Drive NW, is due in Massillon Municipal Court this morning.
DiLoreto attempted to shed light on the decisions he made throughout the day, including how the quickly developing case limited the time he had to reach out to concerned parents. DiLoreto faced irate parents at a press conference in the early evening hours of Nov. 14, but no one from the audience Tuesday publicly addressed him or the school board about the issue.
“When you’re pressed in a leadership role, you’ve got to make a decision,” DiLoreto said as he walked up and down aisles of folding chairs set out for the board’s regular meeting at Lake Cable Elementary School. “If you are out in the audience and you didn’t get a call and you are upset with me, I want you to know that was my decision.”
He debated using the school district’s emergency notification system, typically employed to cancel school, to notify parents of the events that were unfolding. He chose not to when he learned that a small percentage of the student body had been affected.
He also toiled over what message to relay to the community and what information could be released to the public that wouldn’t jeopardize the criminal investigation.
The board acted Tuesday on two of the decisions that DiLoreto reached last week. They unanimously accepted Studer’s resignation and voted to name boys golf coach Jim Kish his replacement. Kish, who attended the meeting to accept fall sports awards with other coaches and student athletes, declined to comment.
DiLoreto said he asked Studer to resign, instead of firing him, so that he could immediately fill the coaching job, which he did not want to leave vacant at the start of the basketball season. Without Studer’s resignation, state law would require the district to place him on paid leave until court proceedings are complete.
Page 2 of 2 - “The advantage of the resignation is regardless of the outcome of the criminal case,” he explained. “We do not have to worry about anything as far as reinstatement, back pay or any of that if for some reason those charges didn’t move forward.”
DiLoreto has notified the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Misconduct about the case.
At the end of the meeting, the board met with the district’s attorney in executive session to discuss any possible legal fallout. Board member Ken Douglas said he is unaware of any threat of a lawsuit against the district at this point.
Douglas said there were no warning signs about Studer that school officials may have missed.
“I don’t think we missed anything,” he said. “We are obviously disappointed in it. You always feel bad. But there were really no indications we had. A couple people have said that you need to focus your anger on the person who did it. We’re disappointed and we feel bad, but we have to let the process play out.”
DiLoreto, who talked about providing counseling resources to students while also maintaining a sense of normalcy, said he doesn’t want Studer’s actions to overshadow the accomplishments of the school system.
“We do not want to allow one person to define our school, to define our community,” he said.