BELOIT - A former Beloit Turner High School teacher is at the center of attack ads released last week by allies of Gov. Scott Walker against his Democratic challenger Tony Evers.
The former teacher, Dayleen Yoerger, is accused of sending sexually explicit Snapchat messages to a male student. However, none of the Snapchat messages in question could be recovered and the student declined to testify against the teacher. police dismissed the case due to lack of evidence.
Turner Superintendent Dennis McCarthy said the district conducted an internal investigation and contacted the Town of Beloit Police Department. During the investigation the teacher was placed on administrative leave. After an initial interview with her attorney, McCarthy said Yoerger refused to cooperate further and then resigned from the district.
"Based on our district's investigation, I am confident we took every appropriate step in removing this teacher from the classroom and assuring that she would never work with our students again," McCarthy said.
The Associated Press reports the case is complex. An attorney for the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI), which Evers oversees, initially said there was "substantial reason" to find the teacher had engaged in "immoral conduct."
"It is my understanding that the DPI could not gather enough information based on its own attempts to investigate to fully conclude that this teacher's license should be revoked...While this may seem difficult for some to comprehend and accept, their standards for action may simply be more difficult to attain than our own as a school district," McCarthy said.
Based on the district's investigation, McCarthy believes this teacher failed to adhere to district policy and "ultimately failed in her duties as a professional."
"As far as this being used for political motives, unfortunately nothing surprises me in politics anymore," McCarthy said. "Let us remember, however, these are ultimately students and their families that are being used for political purposes. Their personal stories and experiences are personal and I would hope our society could appreciate that."
After the police case closed, the teacher worked for a year in Janesville but has since left the profession.
State education department spokesman Tom McCarthy said the case would be reopened if the student involved agreed to testify.
A staff member for Republican state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, of Clinton, lobbied Evers' staff to hurry up the investigation so the teacher could get a new job in 2015.
Loudenbeck told the Associated Press last week the contact was a "routine constituent request to reach out to a state agency to convey a concern." Loudenbeck said she was "extremely disappointed" that the teacher's license was not revoked.
Yoerger told the Associated Press that her case was being used as a weapon in the governor's race and it's not fair.
Yoerger, who was 23 at the time of the incident and is now a stay-at-home mother, called the allegations against her "absolutely false."
Republican Party spokesman Alec Zimmerman was unmoved.
"Faced with an overwhelming amount of evidence that these individuals were unfit to be in a classroom with students, Evers still abandoned our children and allowed them to remain licensed teachers," Zimmerman said.
Evers' campaign manager, Maggie Gau, called the ad "disgusting and dishonest."
"Since he cannot run on his own failed record, Walker and his special interest allies will do everything in their power to distract from his eight years of abandoning our kids, our roads, and our public safety," she said.
Since Evers' primary win, the tight race for governor has largely focused on two themes: whether Evers, as state superintendent, failed to act aggressively enough in cases involving teacher misconduct and whether Walker has done enough in the past eight years to improve the quality of Wisconsin's roads, education and health care costs.
Evers' allies also are attacking Walker. A new spot announced last week from A Stronger Wisconsin, which is aligned with the Democratic Governors Association, accuses Walker of failing to address teacher shortages, rising health care costs and deteriorating roads the past eight years and "he's not changing now."
Walker has been content so far to let the state party attack Evers while Walker runs more than $2 million worth of positive ads. In April, after the conservative-backed candidate lost the state Supreme Court race, Walker urged his supporters to stay positive.
"The Far Left is driven by anger & hatred - we must counter it with optimism & organization," Walker tweeted. "Let's share our positive story with voters & win in November."
Walker on Thursday defended himself.
"Elections are about vision for the future. But they are also about record," he tweeted. "Discussing Tony Evers' troubling record of not revoking the licenses of fired teachers with questionable backgrounds is a legitimate issue. And an epic fail."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.