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Wadena teacher disciplined

A Wadena-Deer Creek School District teacher was given an unpaid suspension equal to 10 work days for not complying with the district’s acceptable use policy for technology.

In a statement released Wednesday to the Dispatch, Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom wrote the disciplinary action against Tom Van Erp, a health and physical education teacher at the middle school, took place Nov. 6.

“The basis for the unpaid suspension is conduct unbecoming a school employee which materially impaired employment effectiveness,” she wrote.

In a news article in the Dec. 1 Wadena Pioneer Journal, a parent stated his child saw a nude photo of a teacher.

In that same Pioneer Journal story, Dahlstrom cited legal concerns that prompted school district officials to limit the amount of information they released on the incident.

In a news release sent earlier to the Pioneer Journal, further details were issued.

“The administration became aware that at teacher had personal photos on his school device which were viewed by several students,” the Pioneer Journal reported. “The photo was inappropriate for a school setting and should not have been on a school device.”

In an email to the Dispatch Wednesday, Dahlstrom said the investigation into the matter is now over. She wrote “Through the forensic process — no picture has been retrieved relating to the investigation.”

Van Erp could not be reached by the Dispatch Wednesday.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860