FORT MEYERS, Fla. — Two years after Christopher Rohling began teaching history at a Florida high school, an alleged sex talk with a female student ended his career in the state for good.
The Florida Department of Education found Rohling, a former teacher at Estero High School, guilty of behavior violating codes of conduct, including telling a student she could raise her grade if she showed him her “boobs," asking her if she’d send nude photos to his Snapchat account and suggesting his classroom door had a lock so she could perform sex acts on him privately. Rohling was also accused of passing the student a note asking if she'd give him oral sex.
Rohling, who was 23 at the time, resigned his position in May 2017 within a few days of the student reporting the unwanted advances to another Estero High teacher, Chelsea Knowles.
The FDOE investigation occurred quietly around the same time another Estero High teacher, Jennifer Hambling, was being investigated for reportedly having physical contact with a JROTC student. The agency didn’t sanction Hambling, who resigned; nor did it or the school district investigate a later complaint that she had an affair with an 18-year-old student in his senior year.
Rohling agreed in July to a settlement with the FDOE that permanently revokes his Florida teaching certificate.
“I deny these allegations,” he wrote to the DOE. “However I am seeking a settlement because I do not have the ability to represent myself or even to travel back to Florida for a formal hearing, and do not have the financial resources to appoint an attorney on my behalf.”
In his defense, the former teacher described the student and her best friend, who supported some of the allegations, as “not always the best students” requiring “an extra level of attention” because they “were constantly on their cell phones instead of paying attention to the class.”
Rohling said he had always been vigilant about keeping a professional boundary because he had learned from others that “the student thought that I was ‘attractive.’”
The student, for her part, reported the two had initially flirted, but when Rohling became explicit, she backed away.
Rohling said the student joined the bowling team because he was coaching it and followed his handle on social media. She said he asked her and her best friend to join the team.
The allegations might have amounted to a case of she said, he said but for an exchange of text messages between them:
Rohling: Sorry again that I tormented you today.
Student: Yeah I thought you were being serious.
Rohling: I thought about being serious … I was tempted.
Student: Good thing I know better.
Rohling: I know but I think you would have.
Student: I wouldn’t have.
Rohling: Are you sure? Lol
I shouldn’t have messed with you like that though.
Student: Yeah Im sure.
Rohling: Okay, Im proud of you and I'm sorry for testing you because I know you wanted to say yes.
Student: Yeah I really didn’t though. I know you don’t think so but I've changed a lot.
Rohling: Wow, really? I’m really proud of you! But also a little hurt lol
Student: Yeah thanks.
School district spokeswoman Lauren Stillwell had no comment on the investigation other than to say, "When the principal was informed of the allegation he immediately notified his SRO and the district. An investigation was launched and DCF was notified. ... All information we had was turned over to the Florida Department of Education."
Rohling, who currently resides in Cincinnati, did not respond to an email request for comment.
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