District investigates Gallup teacher after parents raise concerns

A Gallup High School teacher is on leave after parents raised concerns about the teacher and his past, leading the district to investigate his connection to allegations in Florida.

Gallup McKinley County Schools is investigating if band teacher Michael Johnson is the same person who left a Florida school after allegations of inappropriate behavior.               

“I was pretty shocked,” an anonymous Gallup High School parent said.

She believes the Gallup High School and Chief Manuelo Middle School band teacher is the same Michael Johnson featured in a 2017 report from CBS station WJAX in Jacksonville, Florida.

The station reported that a Michael Johnson’s lengthy personnel file at Nease High School included allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a former student; bought underwear for some students; insisted on measuring all the males during uniform fittings; and that it was a tradition for Johnson to wrestle his senior students.

The district suspended him with pay and Johnson resigned two months later.

Now, the anonymous Gallup parent is worried Johnson is in New Mexico.

“If [the district] did not know [his past], you know, that says a lot about how poorly they didn’t invest their time properly for a proper background check,” she said.

Gallup McKinley County Superintendent Mike Hyatt said Johnson is now on paid leave through an internal investigation to find out if the allegations are true, and if the district missed something in his background check.

“We did not receive any information that would stop us from hiring Mr. Johnson,” Hyatt explained.

The Public Education Department said all teachers in the state go through two background checks, but that allegations handled by a school district won’t show up unless charges are filed.

“If the allegations were true and were not reported to the FBI or others, I’m highly concerned,” Hyatt said.

KRQE News 13 asked the St. Johns County School District in Florida if it reported Johnson’s alleged misconduct to law enforcement so that it would show up when other districts try to background check him, but it wouldn’t say.

The Gallup McKinley County School District could not confirm if it is investigating the same Johnson, only that his background check showed that he had a valid teaching license from Florida.

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