Saturday, April 02, 2005

Bobo's World


JEFFERSON COUNTY - Dakota Ridge High School is a typical suburban school, one boasting a record of achievement in academics, music, drama and sports.

More than 92 percent of its 1,600 students graduate, and 85 percent of those pursue higher education - this compared to a district-wide average of 72 percent.

The school, tucked into a scenic setting between a large open space park and the foothills, serves an affluent population and posts high marks on most measures of academic performance.

Against this glossy facade, however, a dark subculture of sexual seduction developed after the school opened in 1996.

A handful of teachers used their positions to "groom" young female students for eventual sexual relationships, according to a 300-page report of witness statements compiled by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office into accusations against a single teacher.

The investigative report, obtained this week by the Rocky Mountain News, contains reports of teachers drinking at parties with students, of girls visiting the rooms of coaches during out-of-town trips and of teachers developing platonic friendships with students that became sexual relationships shortly after graduation.

The investigation resulted in the conviction of former Dakota Ridge teacher and tennis coach Kevin Ponis, who is serving a prison sentence of 11-years to life for having had an ongoing sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.