OAKLAND PARK — A student who denied having a relationship with a teacher outside the classroom recently got into an accident while driving her car, according to the teacher's husband and public records.
The July 21 accident happened less than six weeks after the Broward School District's law enforcement agency, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), closed its investigation into allegations from the teacher's husband that she and the student were having a sexual relationship. Wilson Rolle Jr., 27, of Hollywood, filed a complaint May 14 against his wife, Marcia Rolle, 25, an English teacher at Life Skills Center of Broward County in Oakland Park. He is currently seeking a divorce.
Marcia Rolle and the student, Christopher Peterson, 19, denied to school officials that they were having an affair.
Neither Marcia Rolle nor Peterson responded to calls or emails from the newspaper seeking comment.
But in a May 20 statement to the Broward School District, Marcia Rolle said,
"Allegations were made against me by my husband, Wilson Rolle, Jr.; stating that I was involved with a student that attends Life Skills Center. These allegations were made to hurt me and are totally untrue. I am very familiar with the Life Skills Center Fraternization Policy, and have never and would never be involved in a relationship with a student.”
Marcia Rolle told investigators that Peterson had been a student of hers since August 2008, that she never had contact with him outside the school, and that there was always another teacher in the classroom, according to a June 5 report from school district investigator Gary Rowe.
Wilson Rolle, however, told the South Florida Times that he planted a recording device in the married couple's bedroom that captured the sounds of his wife and the student having sex.
Marcia Rolle continues to teach at the school. It is unclear whether Peterson is still a student there.
Florida regulations prohibit teachers from having sexual relationships with students, regardless of their age. Such action, if proven, could result in the loss of state teaching certification.
Hollywood police dropped their investigation after determining that the student was not a minor, and thus no law was broken.
The Florida Department of Education is continuing its investigation. But citing the state's confidentiality laws regarding investigations involving teachers, a Department of Education spokesperson declined comment about the status of their investigation.
Details of the accident are outlined in the police report. According to the traffic ticket and documents on file at the Broward County Clerk of the Courts, the accident took place in Coral Springs at 8:25 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21. Peterson, driving a black 2005 Saturn Ion, hit a 2008 Toyota driven by 45-year-old Zhihong Xie of Boca Raton.
"Vehicle #2 (V2) was north bound on University Dr. in the right turn lane and was stopped for traffic," wrote Coral Springs Police Officer Tai V. Herdon in the traffic ticket issued to Peterson. "Vehicle #1 (V1) was northbound on University Dr. in the right turn directly behind V2. V1 side swiped V2.”
Peterson was driving vehicle number one. The Saturn Ion is registered to Brenda A. Williams of Palmetto Bay. Williams is Marcia Rolle's mother, according to her husband.
Williams did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment. But Wilson Rolle said his wife's mother purchased the car for his wife as a gift, and that Marcia Rolle drives it every day.
The Broward School District closed its case after taking statements from Peterson and Marcia Rolle.
In Marcia Rolle's statement on May 20, she accused her husband of forging her checks, and attempting to get loans in her name.
"Because both parties involved deny these allegations and due to the nature of Mr. Rolle's behavior, this case should be classified closed with no further investigation by SIU," Rowe, the school district investigator, wrote in his closeout memo.
In response to public records requests from the newspaper, the school district released a one-page letter that Marcia Rolle sent to the district, written at the request of her employer. The school district did not, however, produce any statements taken from Wilson Rolle or Peterson.
Broward School District spokesman Andrew Feirstein wrote in a Sept. 2 letter to the newspaper, "There are no known additional documents responsive to your request."
Wilson Rolle said that even though he filed the complaint with SIU, the unit never contacted him to get his statement or to review what he says is evidence of a sexual relationship between Peterson and Marcia Rolle.
"I'm the one that filed the complaint, and have not heard anything from anyone, and they have stopped taking my calls," Wilson Rolle said. "Now, it looks as if they never took any statements from my wife either."
The newspaper's repeated attempts to get reaction to the latest developments about the accident have been unsuccessful.
"Your questions concern an employee of Life Skills Centers Broward County which is a charter school. Life Skills Centers Broward County has the responsibility to investigate issues relating to their staff," Acting Director of Public Relations & Government Affairs Charles Webster wrote in an Aug. 31 email to the newspaper.
"You should contact Derek D. Stein Administrator/Principal of Life Skills Center Broward County at 954.735.6970, or the governing board of that organization to address your questions," Webster wrote.
The charter school relied on the district's determination as the basis not to pursue the matter. District officials did not respond to questions about the investigation.
Life Skills Center is a charter school at 2360 West Oakland Park Blvd. in Oakland Park. The school is privately owned and operated, but is funded by taxes from the Broward County School District.
The school's Web site says it is a learning center for students who have faced tough obstacles to gaining a high school diploma, including poverty, addictions, teen pregnancy and family issues.
Stein, the school's principal, referred all calls to the school's parent company, White Hat Management, Inc., an Ohio-based firm that operates a school in Arizona, two in Colorado, 10 in Florida (including the one in Oakland Park), five in Michigan and 18 in Ohio.
The company did not return calls or respond to emails about the accident, or the status of Marcia Rolle as a teacher at the school.
Wilson Rolle said he caught Peterson in the couple's home with his wife, and then planted a recording device in their bedroom. He said the device captured the sounds of the two engaging in sexual relations.
Believing at the time that Peterson was a minor, Wilson Rolle filed a complaint with Hollywood police on May 14. After a preliminary review determined that Peterson was a 19-year-old, not a minor, police closed their review.
"Due to the fact the male is an adult, possibly engaging in sexual activity with another adult, no crime has been committed and no investigation will be initiated," Hollywood police Det. Nancie Toler wrote in a close-out memo on May 28.
Toler also determined that while the audio recording Rolle provided does appear to be of a man and woman having sex, she could not identify who the people are.
Wilson Rolle filed for divorce on July 14, and says he successfully petitioned the court to subpoena his wife's and Peterson's email and cell phone records.
"The subpoenas have been served, and I should have the records within the next week or so, they tell me," he said. "This is nothing but a cover-up by the school district, but it's all going to come out.”
Photo: Marcia Rolle