Ionia County Judge Dismisses OPP Against Former Ionia Manager
IONIA — An Ionia County judge has denied a request for a personal protection order filed by a parent at Ionia High School on behalf of his daughter against former principal Jonathan Duley.
Duley resigned as principal on May 5, two days after an internal school district investigation cleared him of allegations of misconduct related to his surveillance and supervision of students in the high school parking lot.
In a hearing last Friday, Circuit Court Judge Suzanne Kreeger found that the three occasions the student described Duley as being “in close proximity” to her — in the school parking lot where her car was parked, at a senior academics breakfast where she played with the school band, and in a school office talking to secretaries about a problem while she logged off — was “ mere presence” while doing his job.
“These are things the court would expect the principal to do,” the judge said.
The student’s father wrote in an April 26 PPO request filed with the Ionia County Clerk’s Office that “the principal of Ionia High School followed my daughter to her vehicle without her knowledge, and after the Associate Superintendent told him to avoid her, he went out of his way to watch and approach her when the Associate Superintendent was out of the district.The parent cited harassment as the reason for the PPO’s request.
Duley told the court that he monitored student parking because students parked where they weren’t supposed to and that was part of his job as principal. He denied that there were any restrictions on contact with the student, or that he was told to ‘avoid her’, as alleged.
The student admitted that she had not seen Duley following her on March 23, but another student told her he had been and was “now hiding behind a car”. A week later at school, she said she felt “watched” by Duley and was afraid he would follow her to her car.
The student told the judge that when Duley stood next to her during a college breakfast as he spoke to the group director, she felt he was trying to intimidate her.
The day she said Duley was in the school office talking with staff as she logged off, she called it “rare” that he was there at that time of day.
The student also said she found it “strange” that before becoming the high school principal, he asked to follow her Instagram account through Maple the Therapy Dog, a school support dog owned by Duley. She denied the request.
Duley explained that Instagram works with one account following another account and then the other account following. Maple the Therapy Dog had 558 followers at the time.
The student’s attorney, Eric Matwiejczyk, noted that an OPP requires at least two separate deeds to be granted.
“She had more than two instances of being harassed, of being terrorized, threatened,” Matwiejczyk said. “He could have all his personal information. … She is afraid of him.
Matwiejczyk asked the judge to “err on the side of caution”.
Duley’s attorney, Kara Rozin, said Duley was conducting himself in his principal’s responsibilities and did not seek out this student. The petitioner’s burden was to show that “a reasonable person would feel harassed” by the respondent, and that burden was not met, she said.
The school’s internal investigation included a review of district security surveillance footage and interviews with students, staff and Duley, Ionia Public Schools Superintendent Ben Gurk wrote in a 3 May to high school families.
“District protocol during an internal investigation is to thoroughly review all available evidence before making a final decision,” Gurk wrote. “The district recently completed its investigation and the final determination was that there was no evidence of a violation of board policy related to the Principal of Ionia High School’s conduct or communication with IPS students. , or his surveillance of the school parking lot.”
In an April 26 email to the judge, the same student’s mother went into extensive detail regarding the allegations and concerns about Duley, including an allegation that Duley was following and harassing the student, as well as the allegation that Duley improperly used an Instagram account to track student accounts.
On April 27, the judge dismissed OPP’s request “ex parte”, noting that the court was not convinced that a delay in granting the OPP would cause “immediate injury, loss or damage and irreparable”.
On April 29, the male relative requested a hearing into the matter.
The Ionia School Board approved a contract with Duley as a secondary school principal on July 26, 2021. Duley had previously worked for seven years as a secondary school teacher and six years as a primary and primary school principal. secondary.