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State suspends license of former Rochester teacher for "grossly inappropriate" conduct

After a 60-month suspension, the former teacher can petition to have his license reinstated if he undertakes a number of steps.

Rochester Public Schools
Rochester Public Schools
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ROCHESTER — A state agency has suspended the teaching license of Gregory Schoenbeck, a former educator for Rochester Public Schools, for 60 months for having inappropriate conduct with students.

Schoenbeck was a longstanding educator in Rochester. According to The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, he was hired by the district in 1998. He was put on administrative leave in March 2021 and then resigned his position in April 2021.

A notice of his resignation provided to the Rochester School Board said he was a math teacher at Friedell Middle School.

According to the findings of the licensing an standards board, the parents of two students filed complaints against Schoenbeck. The report described both of them as former students of Schoenbeck's who he was tutoring. The document identified them as Student A and Student B.

The report referred to Schoenbeck's actions as "grossly inappropriate for a number of reasons."

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The report says Schoenbeck routinely texted and emailed the students and followed them on social media. The report says Student B blocked him on social media.

Student A messaged him that he needed to stop contacting her because it was making her uncomfortable. Schoenbeck then reached out to Student B, asking if Student A had said anything to her about him.

Schoenbeck allegedly asked one of the students to imagine whether she would have dated him if they were the same age. He also allegedly expressed how jealous he was when he found out she had a boyfriend.

Schoenbeck also created a "photo challenge" with both students. According to the report, "the three players would challenge each other to take selfies in various outfits and poses and send them to each other." He allegedly bought one of the students tights for the challenge.

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He then made a video compilation of the photos from the challenge and posted it on a public website. In one collage, Schoenbeck used an app "to make a photo of himself appear younger while making photos of Student A appear older." He also "put photos of Student A from each grade in high school next to corresponding photos of himself from when (he) was in high school."

Schoenbeck allegedly invited a third student to take part in the game, but the student never responded.

After 60 months, Schoenbeck may petition to get his license back. One of the requirements to do so would be to have a mental health professional determine whether or not he is fit to continue teaching.

The report included a few comments from Schoenbeck about his behavior. It was unclear from the report whether he made the comments during the investigation or whether he said them to one of the students.

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"When asked if he had some kind of fixation or obsession with Student A, (Schoenbeck) responded, 'Yeah, I mean it sounds that way,' 'I took it too far,' and 'I just went way overboard with activities, and questions, and games.'"

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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