UPDATE: APS Board fires John Alberts following sexual harassment investigation

Published 10:40 am Thursday, June 1, 2023

As a result of an investigation into a case of sexual harassment, the Austin Public Schools Board has fired Executive Director of Education Services John Alberts, effective May 31.

According to a statement from the school Thursday morning, the board made the decision Wednesday after reviewing the results of an independent third party law firm investigation — Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.

“The school board has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment,” said Board Chair Kathy Green in the statement. “The school board is firmly committed to providing a safe and respectful environment for our staff.”

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The investigation was carried out over a timespan starting in March of this year and going through into May. Alberts himself was interviewed on three separate occasions — March 13, May 5 and May 19 of this year.

In total, nine people were interviewed in connection to the investigation.

According to the investigation report, the incidents in question took place Jan. 16-17, 2019, when Alberts had been accused of unwanted physical contact toward a teacher at the Rathskeller Bar and Zeitgeist Restaurant and Bar in Duluth, starting on Jan. 16 and witnessed by a second teacher.

The second teacher said she repeatedly saw Alberts put his hands on the victim and that she was clearly uncomfortable. A second incident was witnessed later in the evening, this time with the witness from the first incident.

Then, early on Jan. 17, after a night of drinking, Alberts again was accused of unwanted physical contact as well as written contact at a hotel. The report states that Alberts tried pulling one of the teachers out of an elevator by the arm at the floor he was staying, while the second teacher was able to intervene, saying, “no, she’s staying with me.”

An email produced by the teacher Alberts tried pulling out of the elevator, and that was sent by Alberts at 1:09 a.m., had “In 280” in the subject line, which she believed referenced the room Alberts was staying in. 

Both teachers were found by the investigation to be credible.

Superintendent Dr. Joey Page also said in the statement that steps are being taken to prevent harassment in the future.

“Austin Public Schools is taking proactive steps to prevent harassment in the workplace,” Page said. “The school district has engaged the services of a consultant with extensive expertise in workplace harassment prevention. The consultant will provide a comprehensive training program with a focus on foster a culture of respect.”