MCLAUGHLIN, S.D. (KELO) – The South Dakota Department of Education has permanently revoked the teaching certificate of a McLaughlin teacher for having a romantic relationship with a student.
An investigation found an 18-year-old student stayed over at Christopher E. Albert’s house on prom night last year. Albert was a teacher, coach and senior class advisor at the time.
Albert began teaching for the McLaughlin School District in 2014. During his time there, he primarily taught U.S. Government, U.S. History and Psychology. He was also the cross-country coach and senior class advisor.
He resigned from the school district in August of 2021, a month after being placed on paid administrative leave. According to a complaint, Albert was having a romantic relationship with one of his students. A Commission of the South Dakota Department of Education investigated the claim.
The 18-year-old student graduated on May 8, 2021, but had Albert as a teacher for three years. The student also participated in the GERI summer program, which Albert was the supervisor for.
An investigation found that during the student’s senior year, they “flirted” with Albert in his classroom when discussing graduation details. Albert told the Commission he began having feelings toward the student.
According to state documents, on the last Saturday of April 2021, the student spent the night at Albert’s house after prom. The Commission found neither Albert nor the student were quote “credible witnesses when they described that nothing of sexual nature occurred on prom night.”
Albert told the Commission his relationship with the student started on May 15, 2021. Albert was a chaperone for the McLaughlin School senior trip from May 20 to May 23. During that trip, the bus stopped at Wal-Mart. Everyone except the bus driver, Albert and the student went in to shop. While on the bus, Albert asked the student to rub his feet, state documents say.
The investigation found Albert and the student had sex in late May or early June. The Commission notes the student was still considered a student because they were signed up for the GERI program that summer.
The Commission recommended Albert’s teaching license be suspended for four years, however, according to state documents the Department of Education Secretary found the findings were so extreme, Albert’s teaching certificate was permanently revoked.