TCAPS administrators suspended in wake of sex assault case

Two administrators with Northern Michigan's largest school district are suspended without pay in the wake of a sex abuse case.

The disciplinary action follows the arrest of Marc Morris, a former TCAPS custodian charged with starting a sexual relationship with a 13-year old East Middle School student.

Superintendent Steve Cousins says the two employees were suspended after an internal investigation into the sex abuse case. He says a report uncovered some mistakes that may have put the victim in danger.

Cousins says, "We had a couple administrators who I felt based on their experience and proficiency of previous work that there is more they should have done."

Dr. Cindy Berck, the district's director of human resources was suspended without pay for one week. According to Steve Cousin's report, she approved the hiring of Morris back in 2008 even though it violated the district's ban on hiring relatives of board members. Morris is the son of former school board president Gerald Morris.

Cousins says, "It was clearly a violation of policy. I accept what she says, that it was an oversight."

Dr. Cathy Meyer Looze was suspended for two weeks without pay. The former principal of East Middle School, who is now working as the district's director of professional development is facing disciplinary action for not following up on tips of Morris's alleged sexual misconduct.

The report states that in 2010 a parent reported sexting going on between the former janitor and the teen. A few months later Morris was spotted giving the student a piggyback ride at school, and in early 2011 the assistant principal observed him poking the girl in the ribs.

Cousins said the allegations were not aggressively investigated by Dr. Meyer Looze.

Cousins says, "There was a lack of documentation around incidents that were being dealt with. That's a problem."

Morris was fired from TCAPS in July 2011 for showing up to work with alcohol in his system. He is charged with first degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. A pretrial is set for September 14th.

Cousins says Morris's prior conviction for driving a vehicle while intoxicated would not have prevented him from being hired. A background check did not turn up his prior drug conviction. It's unclear why that happened.