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State: Des Moines teacher exposed students to

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When an Iowa coach, teacher or administrator is thought to be in violation of ethical standards, the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners investigates and when appropriate imposes sanctions to their license.
Mackenzie Ryan / The Register

A math teacher at Central Academy in Des Moines is being accused of “repeatedly” exposing students to “unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.”

Nathaniel Duane Larson is being asked to surrender his license after making inappropriate comments to students about race and sex, according to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

It is not clear what Larson said or how he behaved during the 2015-16 school year to prompt the ethics charges.

Larson joined the Des Moines school district in August 2012 as a substitute teacher for math, science or social science, and has worked as a math teacher at Central Academy since the 2014-15 school year.

When asked for the results of any internal investigation, district spokesman Phil Roeder said that because Larson “has not been fired, demoted or resigned to avoid termination, any internal investigation would not be public.”

The state board, which oversees school licenses and authorizations, does not provide additional details of ethics cases.

Larson did not return messages left seeking comment Monday. He is being charged with two ethical violations, according to board documents: 

  • Failing to make reasonable effort to protect the health and safety of students, or creating conditions harmful to student learning.
  • Conducting professional business that repeatedly exposes students to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.

Licensing sanctions can range from a written reprimand, to a permanent revocation in the most serious of cases.

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The state board received a complaint against Larson in May and found probable cause in June to proceed with a hearing, which is scheduled for Feb. 28 in front of an administrative law judge in Des Moines. 

Larson holds a standard teaching license with endorsements to teach physics, general science, physical science and mathematics in grades five to 12. It’s set to expire in 2022.

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