Marshall Price disciplined for sexual harassment, relationship with student
A longtime music teacher in Corvallis and Philomath schools has been stripped of his license for sexual harassment and other inappropriate conduct involving students — nearly two years after his retirement.
Marshall H. Price, 66, was the band director at Corvallis High School, Linus Pauling Middle School and Westland Middle School from 2003 to 2011, when he retired at the end of the school year. He was the band and choir director at Philomath High School from 1999 to 2003, and was the band director at Highland View Middle School from 1997 to 1999.
On Feb. 11, the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission permanently revoked Price’s license to teach in Oregon schools. The decision followed an investigation into two separate incidents involving female students.
According to the commission’s findings, Price met with a former student — identified only as A.M. — in October 2010, a year after she graduated from high school. In an attempt to console her over some personal difficulties she was having, he told the young woman, “If there were not any students around, I would lay a smack on your lips.”
During the subsequent investigation, A.M. disclosed that Price had made similar comments when she was still a student, between 2007 and 2009. In one instance he told her, “If I was younger, I would kiss you.”
The Corvallis School District gave Price a written reprimand and ordered him to undergo sexual harassment and boundaries training. The district did not suspend him, but he was reported to the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.
The earlier incident dates back to 1974, when Price was teaching in the Oakland School District in Douglas County. A 17-year-old student, identified as J.R.C., was working for Price as a baby sitter and house cleaner. Price made sexual advances toward the young woman, kissing and fondling her, and eventually engaged in a sexual relationship with her, after she turned 18 but while she still was his student.
Price acknowledged these findings in a settlement agreement with the commission. While the results of the investigation were reported to the commission in February 2012, Price’s license was not revoked until February of this year, after he dropped his efforts to appeal the decision and some 20 months after his retirement.
In both cases, the commission found that Price had engaged in unprofessional conduct and had committed gross neglect of duty. In the Corvallis case, the commission determined he had committed sexual harassment and failed to honor appropriate adult boundaries with students. In the Oakland case, the commission found him guilty of gross unfitness for duty.
Melody Hanson, director of professional practices for the commission, said the revocation order has been entered into a national teacher information clearinghouse. That information would show up in a background check if Price should ever apply for a teaching license in another state.
Reached by telephone Friday, Price said he didn’t want to comment.
Hanson said the commission was notified of the improper sexual relationship in November of 2009 and the kissing comments in November 2010. Price’s license was not suspended by the state while the allegations against him were being investigated.
“That would be up to the district as to whether they retained him,” Hanson said. “For our purposes, his license is still valid up until the final (revocation) order.”
Corvallis School District human resources director Jennifer Duvall said she could not discuss specifics of Price’s case because of privacy restrictions and could not disclose whether the district had received any previous complaints about his conduct. She did say, however, that she was surprised to learn of the 1974 incident that came up in the state’s investigation.
“We have a progressive discipline pattern that we follow, and we take appropriate steps based on the information that we have,” Duvall said.
Price’s conduct came to the attention of the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission at least once before, when he applied to renew his Oregon teaching license in 1997.
For reasons that are not made clear in the commission’s report on the subject, Price had let his teaching license lapse in 1976, two years after the Oakland incident. He had worked as an insurance agent for State Farm from 1975 to 1993, with an agency in Corvallis.
But his insurance license was revoked by the state in 1994 following an investigation that found he had commingled client accounts with personal funds over a period of 15 months and had “borrowed” $7,304 in premium payments without informing either the clients or the company. He told investigators he took the money because he was having financial difficulties.
By the time of the investigation, Price had repaid all the money he took. While no clients were denied claims as a result of his actions, some were left without coverage for a period of time.
Even though, as a music teacher, Price might be entrusted with managing school and student funds, the commission decided to reinstate his teaching license with a four-year probationary period, and he was hired to teach music at Highland View Middle School.
In June 2011, while his case before the Standards and Practices Commission was still under appeal, Price retired from teaching. A group of parents hosted a potluck in his honor at a Corvallis park, with music provided by some of his band students.