A female Waiakea High School teacher was put on administrative leave after allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old male student.
Because the student is older than the state’s age of consent, 16, it is unlikely criminal charges will be pursued by law enforcement, but the teacher, Nancy Ballo, is no longer teaching at the school while a state Department of Education investigation continues.
“We haven’t fired anybody,” said Principal Kelcy Koga, adding administrators are very limited in what they can discuss while the investigation is ongoing.
“There have been allegations, none of which I can really get into, I’m not able to release what the allegations are,” he said. “Like any other teacher being investigated, they all have to go through a similar process for conduct, regardless of whether it’s sexual relations with a student, or finances have gone missing, or whatever it is. Teachers have to go through the same process.”
In a letter sent home to parents Tuesday, Koga confirmed the investigation, saying he was unable to provide details.
“Please also know that your child’s safety and welfare is always held as our highest priority,” he wrote. “Any questions/concerns regarding this incident can be directed to me personally via phone or email at Kelcy_Koga@notes.k12.hi.us.”
DOE officials would not confirm Ballo was the teacher named in the allegations, but other anonymous sources have. Meanwhile, students at Waiakea High on Monday said details of the alleged relationship between Ballo and a student have been a major topic of discussion for months.
“I don’t know how many times they did it, or how many other students she may have done it with before,” said sophomore Daynia Au, who had a seventh-period class with Ballo until she left “about a month or two ago,” she said.
Au said reactions at the school were mixed, with some students expressing a lot of concern about the allegations, while others seem to have taken the news in stride.
“I think it’s not good,” she said. “It doesn’t set a very good role model for the students. … There are students who have been talking a lot about it.”
The 16-year-old said the pair was rumored to have had sex on the school’s campus — including in a back storage room connected to Ballo’s classroom — and at the teacher’s home.
Attempts to contact Ballo for comment were unsuccessful. The number for the only Nancy Ballo listed in the phone book was disconnected.
A 1993 graduate of Waiakea, Ballo has taught there for 11 years. The tenured science teacher is on department-directed leave with pay, according to a spokeswoman with the Hawaii DOE. Teacher Kurt Iokepa was assigned to take over the class.
Sources would not say how long either the investigation or Ballo’s leave could last.
On the website RateMyTeachers.com, Ballo received an average score of 78 percent from four students who posted about her.
“Best teacher ever! Caring, understanding, and very helpful. Her class is fun and you learn a lot,” one student wrote in April 2012.
Another mentioned in a posting last year Ballo’s appearance played into the decision to take her class: “Took this class solely because I heard it was easy as hell, not to mention she is the only hot teacher on the Big Island and she was enjoyable to look at when calss (sic) was boring.”
Au added most students seemed to consider Ballo “cool,” saying “the boys always say she’s pretty.”
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.