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Indian Trail High School Teacher Allowed To Resign After Sending Inappropriate Texts To Student

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Indian Trail and Academy Teacher Melvin Tart (39) of Gurnee, IL

Community members were outraged after learning that a teacher at Indian Trail High School and Academy, Melvin Tart, was allowed to keep his job after it was discovered that he sent inappropriate texts to a student. According to internal documents obtained by KCE, Tart was disciplined on January 20, 2023, after a two-day investigation of misconduct allegations.

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After our original story about Tart was published, KUSD allowed Tart to resign from his position.

A letter in Tart’s personnel file says in part:

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“Mr. Tart, You are being issued disciplinary action …. for your actions …. An investigation was conducted by school administration at Indian Trail High School and Academy and reviewed by the Kenosha Unified School District Office of Human Resources. The investigation focused on your inappropriate interactions via text message with one of your students, “Mary.” Of most concern is the interaction with [Mary] in the form of continuous text exchanges between you and [her]. The tenor of the texts is inappropriate and are concerning. You share in your texts with [Mary], personal details about yourself, and divulge to [Mary] that you had a dream about [her] but tell [her] that you will have to save that until [she] gets out of ITA. During the course of my investigation, you shared that the dream you had about [her] was sexual in nature.”

According to records, Tart asked Mary for her cell phone number so that he could use her to babysit his child, but the investigation yielded no mention of babysitting.

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“In accordance with the discipline process outlined in the KUSD Employee Handbook Section 7, you are being given this written reprimand for your actions involving Mary” the letter later states.

Kevin Neir – KUSD HR Director
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Tart was then directed by Kevin Neir, Interim Chief Human Resources Officer, to delete her email address and cell phone number from his phone and have no contact with Mary.

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KCE was first tipped off to this incident in March. We then reached out to KUSD Chief Communications Officer Tanya Ruder. She told us: “On January 17, 2023, the district was made aware of allegations of misconduct and immediately launched an in-depth investigation. The individual was placed on paid leave January 18, 2023, and the investigation concluded on January 20, 2023. No additional details can be shared as this is a personnel matter.”

We then published an article on March 28, 2023. In this article we reported that “[Mr. Tart] was back at work.” We soon thereafter received another tip that Mr. Tart was in fact not back at school. We then followed up again with Ruder who told us: “I can confirm that Mr. Tart is an active employee with no access restrictions.”

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KCE didn’t name Tart at first becuase we didn’t know if there was any misconduct found to have been committed. Tart, however, lawyered up. He hired Robert K. Weber, an attorney out of Racine, WI to send us a letter. The letter wrote, in part, “Mr. Mathewson, I am a staunch advocate for and supporter of the freedom of the press. I find your columns to be generally insightful and fair. I am also defamation and libel counsel to Mr. Melvin Tart. It is in the latter capacity that I am writing to caution you with regard to any future publication regarding Mr. Tart that features any misrepresentation, false claims or defamatory language …. [the file] which may concern a minor infraction of a school district teacher-student contact policy, but I am warning you that any misrepresentation of the facts will lead to immediate litigation.

Attorney Weber then said that KCE is “on notice” of our ongoing obligation to preserve all documents, including from sources. Attorney Weber is semi-retired, so he may not have known about Wis. Stat. § 885.14(2)(a) that states:

(a) Prohibition. Except as provided in par. (b), no person having the power to issue a subpoena may issue a subpoena compelling a news person to testify about or produce or disclose any of the following that is obtained or prepared by the news person in the news person’s capacity in gathering, receiving, or preparing news or information for potential dissemination to the public:

1. The identity of a confidential source of any news or information.

2. Any information that would tend to identify the confidential source of any news or information.

3. Any news or information obtained or prepared in confidence by the news person.

4. Any news, information, or identity of any source of any news or information that is not described in subd. 1.2., or 3.

KCE reached out to Kenosha Police Lt. Joe Nosalik told us that the department wasn’t notified of this conduct by KUSD administration based on a search he conducted. KCE spoke with the father of the girl and he expressed a great deal of disappointment in the district. He thinks Tart’s pattern of behavior is indicative of someone engaging in predatory behavior. The age of the girl is was 17 at the time of the texting.

KUSD Superintendent Jeff Weiss (D)
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

We also reached out to KUSD Superintendent Jeff Weiss who had the ultimate authority to let Tart keep his job. Weiss, through a spokesman, said the district won’t be commenting on this matter. We reached out to members of the board of education, who also chose to keep their lips sealed. We did speak to Mr. Tart. We asked him if his student that he was texting was over 18 or not yet 18. He replied “talk to my lawyer” and hung up. We did reach out to his attorney, and he didn’t immediately respond to our phone message or email. His first letter to KCE, discussed above, was actually sent to the Kenosha News. We thank the Kenosha News for giving us the letter.

Tart is the third KUSD employee to leave or be forced out in the last several months.

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8 Responses

  1. Sexual predators will repeat the same behaviors over and over. This guy will do it again. That is how it is and has always been. A predator has been let loose in one of our schools. Very sad.

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  2. God….how shitty is this guy’s attorney that he actually sends the letter to the completely wrong publication? THAT’S the guy you want representing you?

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  3. Why was he allowed to retire instead of firing him?? Is he able to keep his pension and all his benefits now because it was a retirement? Now the tax payers pay for this? There should be a lawsuit to stop him from doing this. He should have been fired! Is this a new form of “privileged” now???

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    1. It doesn’t say he retired, it says he was allowed to resign, which allows him to go elsewhere and get a teaching job, so he can do this to others girls!

      This makes me sick, that Weiss did not fire him!! I hope the father of this girl, is able to press charges for solicitation of a minor, child enticement or something!! This guy needs to be taught a lesson and it’s obvious that once again, KUSD has let down the female student that this happened to!!

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      1. Ooops! Sorry! Read that wrong! He shouldn’t have been allowed to resign. He should have been fired and arrested! They all should have been! These parents should file charges against these people from Indian Trails!

  4. And it’s hard to get a job when you have a criminal conviction but here it is the school district hires pedophiles and help them keep their job after misconduct. Life is Hard wow!!!!

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