Katie Rufener, 26-year-old former sience teacher at Holcomb High School, Garden City, Kansas, is accused of having sexual relations with a student.
he Finney County Sheriff’s Office reports that on March 19, March 20 and April 10 of this year, they received reports that a teacher at Holcomb High School had consensual sexual relations with an 18-year-old male student. The alleged incidents happened at the teacher’s home in Garden City. Rufener has since moved to Ohio.
On the same day the Sheriff’s Office received the first complaint, Ohio Department of Education records show Ruefner passed a state and federal background check in the process of applying for a teacher’s license there.
This fall she started teaching Anatomy, Biology, and a writing prep course at Ohio’s Southern Local High School in Salineville. She’s also been the 7th and 8th grade Girl’s Volleyball coach.
The superintendent at Southern Local says Rufener has been on paid leave since early last week when she told him about pending charges here in Kansas.
She’s charged with three felony counts of unlawful sexual relations with a student. In Kansas it is illegal for a teacher to have a sexual relationship with a student, even if that student is over 18.
If convicted she could be sentenced to more than eight years in prison.
She has been released on her own recognizance.
Two factors contributed towards Rufener getting another teaching job in Ohio – timing, and communication between law enforcement and school districts.
Katie Rufener submitted her resignation to the Holcomb School District in March, and continued teaching there until the end of the semester – which the district’s superintendent, Jean Rush, says is a very normal process.
According to the Finney County Sheriff’s Department, the first report of Rufener “having consensual sexual relations” with an 18-year-old student was March 19th, 2015.
Her background check in Ohio also took place on March 19th – the same date the initial report of Rufener allegedly having sex with a student at her Garden City home.
The superintendent of the Southern Local school district in Ohio, John Willson, says ongoing investigations are not typically flagged in background checks.
He also says Rufener had several letters of recommendation from Holcomb – her former school district here in Kansas.
Rush, the Holcomb superintendent, also said in a phone call that she had no idea Rufener was being investigated earlier this year.
She says the first time she heard about Rufener’s three felony charges or the investigation was last Friday, from the Garden City newspaper.