Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Hearst Connecticut Media
FAIRFIELD — A popular Fairfield Warde High School teacher accused of twice exposing himself to a female student should not be fired, a special hearing officer has ruled.
Following several hearings, Frederick Ward III, appointed by the Board of Education, found the police investigation of the alleged incidents had not been sufficient and the complainant not credible and recommended the teacher, Jeff Iwanicki, not be fired.
“The arbitrator finds the police investigation was insufficient, lacking in any effort to even ascertain all the witnesses, nor interview them,” Ward stated in his report obtained Tuesday by Hearst Connecticut Media.
“Jeff Iwanicki suffered the indignity of being falsely accused of a sexual offense by a female student who was found not to be credible after days of testimony,” said Iwanicki’s lawyer, Edward Gavin.
“A false allegations against a distinguished teacher with an exemplary record is unforgivable. This malicious and vicious allegation could have ruined Jeff’s life,” Gavin said.
Iwanicki, 45, is awaiting trial in Superior Court for the alleged 2016 incidents, charged with two counts of impairing the morals of a minor, two counts of public indecency and two counts of breach of peace.
Iwanicki, who has taught at the high school five years and before that at Fairfield Woods Middle School, was arrested after the then 15-year-old girl told school officials Iwanicki had twice exposed himself to her in his classroom in the high school.
Police said after the student complained, she sat down and wrote out three pages detailing what happened.
Police said the student is known to spend all her free time in school in Iwanicki’s classroom working on graphics projects like T-shirts for the school’s bowling team.
On Nov. 2, 2016, she had stayed after class to help clean up silk screening equipment with Iwanicki when he accidentally poured cleaning solution on his pants.
“He said something like, ‘Aw look what I’ve done,’” she told police. “I have a nervous habit of not looking people in the eye when I talk, I glanced down to my feet but something caught my eye.” She said he had exposed himself.
On Dec. 6, 2016, she was discussing with Iwanicki the designs for some T-shirts when she said he exposed himself again.
Both Iwanicki and the girl testified before the school board during the termination hearings. Iwanicki denied exposing himself to the girl and testified that her complaint came just days after he chastised her for skipping classes and threatened to go to the dean.
In his 20-page report, Ward said other students testified they had been in Iwanicki’s classroom on Dec. 6 and did not see Iwanicki expose himself.
”The evidence that the complainant was not sure what she saw on Nov. 2, 2016, that she thought it was a joke …coupled with her testimony that she stated that she wished she never made this complaint and that she could not believe this matter had gone this far, was compelling and undermined the credibility of the complainant,” Ward said.