A large Missouri public school district refuses to answer questions about its investigation of a teacher accused of soliciting a minor, and a quiet resignation may put other kids at risk.
Further, since the Park Hill School District near Kansas City will not confirm the identity of the teacher or whether the investigation was even completed, the public cannot know for sure whether the alleged perpetrator is still working with kids at the school or may seek employment at another school unaware of the investigation.
As previously reported by The Lion, in April a Park Hill high school teacher at the district’s “Lead Innovation Studio” was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into what principal Ryan Stanley called “inappropriate behavior.” Emails to Stanley for comment on the investigation in June and last week have gone unanswered.
The police report related to the misconduct alleged “enticement,” according to the Kansas City Star, which occurs when a person 21 or older attempts to persuade a child under 16 to have sex, according to Missouri law.
An email on the status of the investigation to the Kansas City Police Department, where the police report was filed, has not been answered. The Lion also left a voicemail for the Platte County Prosecutors Office asking whether it considered filing charges in the case.
Although Park Hill is unwilling to name the teacher under investigation, a Missouri education Facebook group identified the teacher as Payton Dishman, who The Lion previously identified with the initials P.D.
The group criticized Dishman for hosting a drag brunch for kids at North Kansas City’s Chicken N Pickle in June, linking him to a local drag queen performer known as “Aria Queer.”
The drag brunch was presented by Nclusion Plus, an organization that dubs itself “a new-age, next-level club that features all things LGBTQIA+.” Dishman is Nclusion’s Kansas City regional director, a title also listed in the Instagram profile of Aria Queer.
The Lion’s attempt to reach Dishman through Nclusion’s publicized email address was unsuccessful.
While the school refuses to release any details about the situation, on Friday a Google search of the school district’s website for the name “Dishman” turned up a “Personnel Actions” document dated Aug. 11, which contained a list of resignations, including Dishman’s resignation, effective Aug. 9.
Before the resignation, in July Park Hill responded to a Sunshine Request from The Lion, confirming that Dishman was still employed by the school as of June 24 and held the title “teacher.”
However, the school’s staff directory had not included Dishman’s teacher profile since at least May, although a Google search in early June turned up a cached search result revealing he did have a profile on the district website sometime before the April incident, suggesting the school removed Dishman’s profile sometime in the spring.
In June, Dishman’s social media profiles listed his affiliation with the school as “Spanish Teacher,” although those accounts were made private or deleted during the same month. In August, Dishman’s TikTok account @thekcteacher also was deleted.
A district document of “Summer School Assignments” indicates Dishman was to earn $4,200 for “DRAMA (Elementary Enrichment)” at the district’s Lakeview Middle School this summer. The Lion could not confirm whether that class was actually taught by Dishman.
With fall classes at the school underway and unaware of Dishman’s resignation, on Aug. 30 The Lion called the Lead Innovation Studio, where Dishman was working in April, and asked to speak with him, seeking comment on this story. The operator paused and said, “Payton Dishman does not work here.”
The Lion then called the district office, reporting what was said on the previous call, inquiring for any contact information for Dishman. The operator, indicating she was using a computer, reported, “It says he works over there [at the Lead Innovation Studio],” before offering his email address.
The Lion sent an email to Dishman’s school email address the same day but received no reply, automated or otherwise. Kelly Wachel, director of communication services, responding to The Lion’s request for information about the investigation, replied in an email: “As you may know, we are unable to provide information about personnel matters.”
District parent Tom Hutsler, a vocal critic of Park Hill’s leadership, told The Lion that the school’s silence on the teacher investigation is inappropriate. He sees the situation as part of a larger problem with district leadership over what should be the focus of education.
“They need to be teaching our kids math, reading and language,” he said. “I’ve had teachers tell me that they are indoctrinating the teachers with books on CRT [Critical Race Theory] and DEI [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion].
“They’re trying to force their ideology on our children at too young an age.”
Hutsler, who is running for state representative in HD12, has two of his three children in the district and is a member of one of four families suing the school for discrimination and First Amendment violations after his oldest son, now attending another school, faced a lengthy suspension over an inappropriate joke involving many students.
For Hutsler and other parents concerned about safety at Park Hill, the district’s inability or unwillingness to give any information about the reported teacher misconduct, the result of the subsequent investigation and the circumstances of a resignation call into question the school’s commitment be “a safe place to learn and to work,” a phrase Stanley used in an April email to parents about the teacher allegations.