Former substitute teacher calls sexual exploitation charges "sobering"

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9)- Mary Beth Haglin could face up to two years in prison for the sexual exploitation of a Cedar Rapids high school student. And on Monday, the former substitute called the whole ordeal “sobering.”

Mary Beth Haglin, former substitute teacher.

Prosecutors charged Haglin, 24, with sexual exploitation by a school employee. She turned herself in to police on Friday and was released on her own recognizance Saturday following an initial appearance.

The Cedar Rapids School District says Haglin worked as a substitute in the last school year, primarily at Washington High School.

In an interview on Monday, the former substitute claimed prior abusive relationships left her vulnerable to this kind of inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old student. But she admitted it was primarily her fault.

“I do take responsibility. I’m not shying away from this. I’m facing this head on,” Haglin said.

Haglin said she and the student who got involved both denied the relationship when questioned by school leaders at Washington High School last winter. But when someone posted a video of the two together in April, the school investigation picked up again.

On May 17th, the Cedar Rapids School District told Haglin not to come back as a substitute teacher at the high school and forwarded the matter to authorities.

Haglin said her relationship with the student, who was not someone she taught in class, continued during both the school and criminal investigation. But she said it’s finished now.

“I no longer have a desire or wish to contact or see this person ever again. And I don’t want him to contact me,” she said.

Although she was dismissed as a Washington High School substitute after May 17th , that message didn’t reach the Grant Wood Area Education Agency office until June 14th. Grant Wood AEA maintains the database that many metro districts use to select and schedule substitute teachers.

Because Haglin still had a valid substitute listing there, she was used at middle and elementary schools in Cedar Rapids, Linn-Mar and College Community from May 18th until the end of the school year even though a criminal exploitation investigation was underway.

Renee Nelson, a spokesperson for Grant Wood AEA, said the agency plans to contact all the districts to address what could be a flaw in the reporting system.

“As soon as that notification came through that there was an investigation she was pulled from the system. So that piece happened and it worked. We have an issue with the timeliness and we’ll improve upon that,” Nelson said.

Marcia Hughes, community relations supervisor with Cedar Rapids Schools, said the delay in notifying Grant Wood AEA to pull Haglin from all substitute list was due to a “miscommunication.” Hughes said on Monday that the district’s Department of Human Resources failed to follow up on a notification by Washington High School. Hughes said the district is taking steps to insure that problem doesn’t happen again.

Haglin was released from the Linn County Jail on Saturday with an order to have no further contact with the student. Her next court appearances are a preliminary hearing now set for August 12th and an arraignment September 1st.

In addition to possible prison time, Haglin could also go on the state’s sex offender registry for up to 10 years.