Staples Teacher Facing Misdemeanor Charges, Not Currently Teaching

UPDATED: Both misdemeanor charges against a Staples High School science teacher for allegedly filing a false police report have been dismissed, according to police.

A science teacher has not returned to teach this fall after being charged with two misdemeanors.

According to several freshmen in his scheduled classes, students were informed by their new teacher, Heather Wirkus, that he would not be their science teacher.

According to A.J. Scheetz, the science department chair, Heather Wirkus was hired to teach his biology classes during periods one, three, five, and six. Scheetz would not say whether or not he was fired or suspended.

According to the Westport Daily Voice, the science teacher allegedly made a false claim after he reported his car had been broken into in the Staples High School parking lot on June 26. According to the paper, he told police that several valuables were stolen from his car, including an engagement ring, golf clubs, a GPS, two Apple computers, and an iPad.

On Aug. 3, following a police investigation, according to the Voice, he turned himself in and admitted that the items were not stolen. He faces charges of second-degree false incident report and second-degree false statement. He was scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 24 and his next court date is Sept. 13.

“I was surprised,” Casey Lu ’15 said. “He was probably the last person I would have expected to do something like that.”

Most students’ primary reaction to the news of his charges and absence was one of surprise.

“[He] was famous for his crazy stories about what happened to him, but this seems way out of character,” said Mark Schwabacher ’13, who had him as a biology teacher and started the “[…] is the Best Bio Teacher” Facebook page, which was primarily active during the 2009-2010 school year.

Schwabacher remembered the science teacher for his silly antics and positive energy in the classroom. This exuberance could be seen in his interactive lessons, many of which made use of technology.

According to Rob Rogers, a social studies teacher and Co-Chair of the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) Committee, the teacher took advantage of technology in the classroom, streaming lectures online and projecting his iPad onto a screen in the classroom.

He previously worked for Apple and was a chairperson on the ITL Committee.

He was slated to help train staff in using the new Google system this fall, but due to his absence Rogers took over the task of aiding teachers with the new system.

“[His] talents would have been very helpful,” Rogers said. “His insights will definitely be missed.”

Principal John Dodig declined to comment because the issue involves personnel.

Superintendent Elliot Landon did not return calls for comment.