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Students, parents speak out on Pueblo teacher controversy

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Nov 16 2013 03:17:56 AM CST

The community debates whether a former South High School teacher who resigned in the wake of accusations of improper conduct with students, deserves more punishment.

PUEBLO, Colo. -

Students and parents at Pueblo South High are speaking publicly for the first time about former teacher Larisa Oringdulph.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 and the Pueblo Chieftain learned earlier this week that Oringdulph resigned last month amid allegations she behaved inappropriately with students.  She was accused of kissing a student, texting a photo of herself in underwear to a student and sending text messages about sex -- an act commonly referred to as "sexting."

On Friday, three students and two parents shared their thoughts on the matter with  KRDO NewsChannel 13.

Brandon DeHerrera said he and many classmates saw the photo.

"One of the kids finally told, and it caught up with her," DeHerrera said.  "She has two kids and a husband.  I don't understand why she would do that, especially (having) a family."

Another student, Isaac Clouston, said he understands how male students might think it's "cool" to have a suggestive photo of their female teacher.  However, he believes most students disapprove.

"It's somewhat scary because when you don't know that kind of person is around you in a classroom setting and you find out, it just gives you a creepy feeling," he said.

One parent who requested anonymity said she began hearing about the situation from other students a year ago, but nothing was done after she informed police and School District 60.

"They told me to stop the rumors, that they were creating a very big ruckus in the school that wasn't true, and to just leave it at that," she said.

Students and parents also said they heard talk of Oringdulph possibly having a sexual relationship with a student.  The mother of that student told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that her son did not have such a relationship, and that she believes Oringdulph didn't send the inappropriate photo and messages directly to him.

That student graduated last spring.  Parents and students said they believe as many as five students, all juniors or seniors, initially received the photo and text messages.

Neither the district nor Oringdulph have commented on the situation.  However, police Sgt. Eric Gonzales said police and the district attorney's office investigated the matter last month and agreed that there was no cause to file criminal charges against her.

"There could be moral and and ethical issues with (school) policies that District 60 may have," he said.  "But there's nothing we can do about that."

Many parents and students said even if no crime was committed, Oringdulph deserves more punishment beyond losing her job because of what they consider to be inappropriate behavior with students.

"If it was my kid, I'd want further action," said Monique Ballejos.  "But maybe they're trying to protect the reputations of the students."

Clouston wants more answers about the situation.

"The school needs to come clean and explain everything that happened," he said.  "Then there aren't rumors."

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