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COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND PRACTICES COMMISSION

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
Petitioner,

v.

STEPHEN SARAPPO,
Respondent.

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DOCKET NO. DI-14-28

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER


On June 23, 2014, the Department of Education (Department) filed a Motion for
Judgment on Default, seeking revocation of the educator certification and employment
eligibility of Respondent. Initially, the Department filed a Notice of Charges on May 7,
2014, alleging that the Respondent had engaged in professional misconduct and
requesting discipline against his Instructional II teaching certificate in the area of Social
Studies 7-12.
The Department served the Notice of Charges on Respondent by certified and
first class mail. Notwithstanding the language in the Notice of Charges cautioning
Respondent that failure to respond could result in the factual assertions being deemed
admitted and the imposition of discipline without a hearing, Respondent declined to file
an answer or otherwise respond to the Notice of Charges. Accordingly, the Department
has filed the instant Motion, requesting that the factual allegations in the Notice of
Charges be deemed admitted and that revocation of Respondents educator
certification and employment eligibility be ordered.

In accordance with the Commissions bylaws, a professional educator who fails


to respond to the Notice of Charges is in default as provided for in section 35.37 of the
General Rules of Administrative Practice and Procedure. 22 Pa. Code 233.115(c)(1);
1 Pa. Code 35.37. Thus, all relevant facts stated in the Notice of Charges will be
deemed admitted. Accordingly, the Commission finds that Respondent, at all times
relevant herein, was employed as a teacher in the Bethlehem Area School District
(District). On October 12, 2012, the Respondent resigned his position with the District
after being confronted regarding his misuse of a District issued laptop. Specifically, the
Respondent admitted that he used his District issued laptop to access sexually explicit
websites in December, 2010, and on October 1, 2012, and that he had projected the
URL for one of those sites on his classroom white board during instructional time. The
Respondents misconduct violated the Districts policy on Computer, Network and
Internet Use.
The Commission repeatedly has found that the use of school district issued
equipment to access sexually explicit websites1 and materials offends the morals of the
Commonwealth and sets a bad example to students. The Commission thus finds that
Respondents conduct constitutes immorality2.
Similarly, the Commission finds that Respondents repeated violation of District
policy falls within the Commissions definition of negligence 3. Having determined that
Respondents conduct constitutes immorality and negligence, the Commission finds

1 The websites included ones depicting teens in pornographic videos.


2 Immorality has been defined by the Commission as conduct which offends the morals of the
Commonwealth and is a bad example to the youth whose ideals a professional educator has a duty to
foster and elevate. 22 Pa. Code 237.3.
2

that Respondent's conduct warrants revocation of his educator certification4.


Accordingly, we enter the following:

3 Negligence has been defined by the Commission as continuing or persistent action or omission in
violation of a duty, which may be established by school policy. 22 Pa Code 237.8.
4 By failing to respond to the Notice of Charges, the Respondent has forfeited the opportunity to mitigate
the sanction.
3

ORDER
AND NOW, this 17th day of July, 2014, upon consideration of the Motion for
Judgment on Default filed by the Department of Education and the failure of
Respondent to respond thereto, it is hereby ORDERED that the educator certification
and eligibility to be employed as a charter or cyber charter school staff member or a
contracted educational provider staff member of Respondent STEPHEN SARAPPO
shall be REVOKED.

PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND


PRACTICES COMMISSION

BY:

_____________________________
Gilbert R. Griffiths
Chairperson

ATTEST:

_____________________________
Carolyn Angelo
Executive Director

Date Mailed: July 17, 2014