An employment dispute at the Douglas County Youth Center has unearthed decade-old allegations of sexual misconduct by a former basketball coach at Omaha South High School.
The case involves Daniel Archie, who was then a gym teacher and head basketball coach. Accused of sexual misconduct, Archie was allowed to resign without the Omaha Public Schools reporting the allegations to police. He then got a job at the Youth Center, where he works with detained girls and boys.
The dispute, documented in hearing transcripts and court records, reveals publicly for the first time that Archie was forced to leave South High amid allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a former student. But according to these records, the girl said she was still a student, age 16 or 17, when they began having sex, and she said Archie got her pregnant — twice — and arranged for abortions.
Last fall, the Youth Center’s superintendent was notified of the allegations. He fired Archie for not disclosing the circumstances of his OPS exit on his employment application.
But Archie successfully challenged his firing, arguing that he didn’t misrepresent anything, and Douglas County was forced to reinstate him with back pay. Last month, a judge upheld that decision.
The dispute hinges on whether Archie lied by omission when he wrote on a county employment application in 2003 that he had left OPS to spend time with his kids. In 2004, when he applied to move to a physical education job at the Youth Center, he put the reason for leaving OPS as “family.”
In Archie’s termination letter and at a hearing, Brad Alexander, the Youth Center’s superintendent, said allegations of sexual misconduct and dishonesty are obviously relevant to a job in which he would work with vulnerable youths.
Alexander said Archie should not be working with young people. “You do not deserve to be a school teacher and Douglas County certainly would not have hired you ... had we known that you were involved in this behavior,” Alexander wrote in the termination letter.
The former student was 17 when she graduated in 2001. Archie was 34.
She said they started having sex when she was either a junior or a senior, frequently on school grounds, according to her testimony at a hearing last fall. She said Archie manipulated her and “took (her) innocence,” according to a hearing transcript.
The transcript shows that Archie acknowledged having a relationship with the female, now 31, but he says they didn’t start having sex until after she graduated. He denied getting her pregnant.
In 2002, according to OPS records, the district investigated allegations that Archie was found on Oct. 10, 2002, in a “potentially compromising sexual situation” with a former student.
In a letter to Archie dated Jan. 3, 2003, Sandra Hodges, then assistant superintendent for human resources, says she initially recommended firing him. But after consulting with attorneys, OPS officials decided that they didn’t have enough evidence of sexual misconduct to justify his termination.
The former student later testified that she didn’t cooperate with investigators.
OPS administrators, however, determined that Archie lied about his whereabouts on the day of the incident in question. Hodges gave Archie two choices: Resign or face a disciplinary hearing before the Omaha school board. He resigned.
His last duty day was Jan. 6, 2003; his resignation was effective Jan. 22, according to OPS. On Feb. 4, 2003, he applied for a juvenile detention specialist job at the Youth Center. He started that March.
Meanwhile, the Nebraska Department of Education opened its own inquiry.
If a teacher has sex with a former student, it can be a violation of professional standards. Department of Education rules prohibit teachers from acts of “moral turpitude” or exploiting their relationships with students.
In the early 2000s, OPS policy prohibited teachers from having sexual contact with former students within two years of their graduation or leaving the district, said OPS spokesman Todd Andrews.
Seven months after Archie began work at the Youth Center, the Education Department reprimanded him for lying to OPS administrators. Jeff Schneider, an investigator in the Department of Education’s legal office, declined to comment on the state’s investigation.
Soon after, while Archie was employed at the Youth Center, he applied for a new job as a physical education teacher at the center, where he worked without incident for 10 years, according to Alexander.
Then last fall, Alexander got a call from the mother of the girl who was involved with Archie.
The woman said Archie had a sexual relationship with her daughter while the girl was a student at South High, according to records filed with the Douglas County Civil Service Commission and Douglas County District Court.
She provided Alexander with an audio recording — an excerpt from a recent phone call between Archie and her daughter. The former student talks about having sex with Archie on school grounds, getting pregnant twice and having abortions. Alexander confronted Archie. After a disciplinary hearing Aug. 25, he fired him.
Archie appealed his firing to the Civil Service Commission, which held a hearing on the matter Nov. 6. At the hearing, Deputy County Attorney Meghan Bothe said Alexander was justified in firing Archie.
“Having an employee working for the Youth Center under a cloud of suspicion of how he left his last job, for having sex with a student, is prejudicial to the county’s reputation,” she said, according to the transcript.
Archie and his attorney, Rick Wade of Lincoln, did not return several messages seeking comment for this story.
At the hearing, Archie disputed the former student’s version of events. He said the 4-minute audio excerpt is part of a longer phone call that, if heard in full, would tell a much different story.
He described his relationship with the former student as an on-again, off-again affair over many years that he has tried to end. But he said she wouldn’t leave him alone.
“It was like a fatal attraction,” Archie said.
He said he assumed that his Youth Center employers knew about the rumors surrounding his departure from OPS and said he resigned to spare his children the embarrassment if “the whole situation” were revealed. He said it was clear that OPS officials weren’t listening to his side of the story.
“I’m the kind of person who is laid back,” he said. “I don’t like drama, so I just, you know — this is probably the easiest thing to do.”
Wade said Archie wasn’t aware of the state’s investigation when he applied for the county job.
“He wasn’t misrepresenting,” Wade said, according to the hearing transcript. “Nothing was pending. Nothing had been done. He was no longer an employee. He was not on administrative leave. He was done with his employment.”
He characterized the state reprimand as a minor blemish on Archie’s record that has no effect on his teaching certificate. Besides, he said, when Archie applied for the physical education job, the county should have checked Archie’s teaching certificate: A copy of his reprimand is available on a public Department of Education website.
Alexander said he should have looked closer at the reasons Archie gave for leaving OPS. In retrospect, Alexander said it doesn’t make sense for someone to leave a job to spend time with family, only to go to work at a 24/7 operation that requires varied shifts.
The former student’s mother also testified. “My daughter was harmed. Our whole family was harmed by these events,” she said. “But I understand I have an obligation as a citizen to protect someone else’s child from being victimized like my daughter was. ... I want to prevent that from happening to someone else’s daughter.”
Asked why it took so long to disclose the allegations, the mother replied: “Because my daughter finally woke up. The light bulb went off.”
Archie never was charged with a crime. The age of consent in Nebraska is 16, and Omaha Police Lt. Darci Tierney confirmed that police never took a criminal report on the matter.
OPS has faced criticism in the past for waiting to report sexual misconduct allegations to police. In 2012, the school board changed its policy and instructed employees to report allegations within 24 hours.
OPS spokesman Andrews declined to answer questions about Archie, saying it is protected personnel information.
The Civil Service Commission voted 3-0 to reverse the firing. The commission members present were Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning; Denise Lickei, assistant chief deputy register of deeds; and William Vlcek, a construction company owner and the commission’s at-large member. Lickei, the commission’s chairwoman, declined to comment because there might be further litigation.
The county appealed the commission’s decision to district court. On March 23, Douglas County District Judge Marlon Polk upheld the commission’s decision, meaning Archie will remain in his job.
Bothe said the county will appeal to the State Court of Appeals.
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