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Former Crater teacher gets 'bench probation,' fines for relationship

CENTRAL POINT — A former Crater High teacher will serve 11 months "bench probation" and pay about $360 in fines related to misdemeanor charges for having an inappropriate relationship with a male student.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia sentenced former Crater High science teacher Sarah Louise Swanson-Suhrstedt on Friday.

Swanson-Suhrstedt, who was not present in court but was represented by Medford lawyer Jeni Feinberg, will pay a $100 conviction fee, $100 bench probation fee and $160 fine.

Swanson-Suhrstedt, who has moved to Portland since she resigned her teaching job at Crater, was accused of pursuing an inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old male student in 2012.

While the boy was an adult at the time, misdemeanor charges were filed because he was still a student.

Central Point police arrested Swanson-Suhrstedt in June 2012 following a three-and-a-half month investigation by the police department, the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force and School District 6.

Swanson-Suhrstedt was placed on administrative leave March 2 and resigned on April 1 before the investigation was completed.

When allegations surfaced in February, District 6 officials notified police as well as the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, the agency that enforces professional standards of conduct for educators.

Police determined during their investigation that the alleged relationship happened off campus, but during the school year.

"The saddest part is she is apparently a great teacher ... and now is in process of a (Teachers Standards and Practices Commission) discipline where she is losing her license. It should be revoked very shortly," Feinberg said, noting that Swanson-Suhrstedt had relocated to Portland and recently had a baby with her husband.

Contacted Friday, officials for the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission reported that Swanson-Suhrstedt's license expired in September.

The commission reportedly issued a letter to Swanson-Suhrstedt in October, giving her an option for a hearing.

If no hearing takes place, the commission will make a recommendation about whether to revoke the license or otherwise sanction Swanson-Suhrstedt.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com

Former Crater teacher gets 'bench probation,' fines for relationship