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Petition targets Hawley teacher charged with domestic assault

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

A Hawley Elementary School teacher is slated to appear in court Wednesday on suspicion of domestic assault, which has area residents already calling for his dismissal.

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Fifth-grade teacher Marlyn John Keller, 35, faces a misdemeanor domestic assault charge for allegedly throwing his wife to the floor in their Hawley home on July 13. He is free after posting $1,500 bond, but must have no contact with his wife and faces a pretrial hearing Wednesday, according to Clay County District Court documents.

Keller's arrest sparked the concerns of several local residents and parents who have signed an online petition calling on the Hawley School Board to immediately terminate Keller.

Hawley resident Rhonda Rasmussen, who signed the petition, said she does not want Keller around her daughter. "I plan on pulling her from his class if he is not removed," she said Friday.

The new school year starts Sept. 2.

The online petition is at ipetitions.com and is sponsored by "Citizens Against Unprofessional Teacher Misconduct." No contact name is listed. The Web site is open to anyone who wants to create and electronically sign a petition for free.

By Friday evening, 135 people signed the petition anonymously or with their names. About 40 signees are labeled "Anonymous" or wrote pseudonyms.

"Our kids should respect their teachers but should not have to fear them," wrote James Smith.

"I agree with the aabove (sic) petition. I think we need to act now," writes Merlyn Petermann.

Some anonymous writers criticized the petition.

"This is sad and pathetic. Don't we all live in a country where we are all supposed to be innocent until proven guilty," asks "NOTA SIGNER."

Rasmussen, who would not say who created the online petition, said the petition idea came after several parents attended a late-July School Board meeting. Board members would not discuss the matter, leading to the petition's creation.

Superintendent Phil Jensen said Friday he is aware of the petition and said there is no change in Keller's work status and that Keller will resume teaching when the semester begins.

"The bottom line is we'll cover district policy" if action is taken against Keller, Jensen said. "We'll see what comes from the court proceedings."

The School Board has the final say in any discipline, ranging from a verbal warning to termination.

Marlyn Keller could not be reached for comment. A telephone listing at the Keller residence was not working Friday.

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