Creswell school administrators sent texts mocking students

A photograph taken over the shoulder of Creswell High School Assistant Principal Jordan Osborn as he exchanges texts with Principal Andy Bracco at a recent basketball game. The photo, which has been authenticated, was taken by a person in the stands.

Creswell High School Principal Andy Bracco and Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Jordan Osborn are being scrutinized by community members after text messages in which they made fun of several students were made public last week.

One text poked fun at one former student’s weight. Another insinuated that a former student was snorting cocaine.

Rachel Stauffer, 17, a student at Pleasant Hill High School, was the target of the administrators’ text message regarding her weight. In the text, Bracco wrote to Osborn, “Looking fit and healthy I’m sure,” to which Osborn texted, “She’s 5’2 and 257 pounds.”

The text message conversation happened during a Jan. 13 Creswell varsity boys’ basketball game at Pleasant Hill High School, where Stauffer was cheering with the ­Pleasant Hill varsity cheerleading team.

A person in the stands at the game took a ­photograph over Osborn’s shoulder of the texts on Osborn’s phone.

District Superintendent Todd Hamilton confirmed that copies of the text obtained by The Register-Guard were between Osborn, 31, and Bracco, 45. Hamilton also confirmed the comments were referring to Stauffer.

Stauffer, who is a senior at Pleasant Hill, asked her father, Fred Stauffer, to respond to media requests for comment.

Fred Stauffer said that the nature of the text was exactly why his daughter transferred to Pleasant Hill High School before the start of the 2016-17 school year.

“She left that school because she was being bullied,” Fred Stauffer said. “She was there (at Pleasant Hill) cheering at her own school, happy as can be, and to have her leave a surrounding like that (in Creswell) just to have them bring it back to her was atrocious.”

Fred Stauffer said his daughter, who had attended Creswell district schools since kindergarten, long had been bullied about her weight.

“She has Type I diabetes and struggles with that every single day,” Stauffer said. “But she’s strong and beautiful, and deals with her struggle bravely.”

Stauffer wasn’t the only person mentioned during the Jan. 13 text message conversation.

Emma Connelly, 17, who also transferred to Pleasant Hill High School just before the 2016-17 school year, was referenced in the text message conversation as Emma Joy. She, too, is a former Creswell student who transferred to Pleasant Hill for her senior year for a “fresh start.”

In the text, Bracco asks Osborn, “Where’s Emma Joy?” Osborn responds with: “Snorting coke.”

Emma Connelly said in an interview Tuesday that what the administrators said in the text message was “completely untrue.”

“I did get in trouble, but that was for something that took place off of campus over a year ago, and it had nothing to do with cocaine,” Connelly said. “What they’re talking about actually had to do with another student, so they’re taking rumors they heard at school and having fun with them.”

Connelly said that although seeing text messages from her former administrators about her was hurtful, she felt embarrassed for the school.

“I thought that what they did was pretty immature and obviously doesn’t set a good example for students, especially coming from people who are supposed to be their leaders.”

Connelly said she and her mother met with Hamilton, Osborn and Bracco, and the two administrators apologized during the meeting.

“The superintendent said he wished I still attended the school so I could build a relationship and trust with them again,” Connelly said. “But that doesn’t really make sense to me, because before I saw those texts, I did trust them.”

The Register-Guard named, quoted and used images of the teens with their parents’ permission.

Fred Stauffer and his wife, Meg Stauffer, had a meeting with the superintendent Monday. Stauffer said he was not satisfied with how the meeting went.

“He said, ‘I can’t talk to you about what will happen with the administrators because it’s a personnel issue, but what are you wanting to happen here?’?” Stauffer said. “That’s an unbelievable response to me. People in other professions — like health occupations — are let go in the same day for behavior like this.”

What repercussions the text message conversation may have on his daughter was what Stauffer said worried him most.

“This is our little girl,” Stauffer said. “She can’t defend herself against things like this that are coming from the very top of the school. She transferred to Pleasant Hill to get away from this.”

Repeated inappropriate behavior from the administrators also was a concern for Stauffer.

“If he (Osborn) is doing this at a basketball game, he’s doing it at other places, too,” Stauffer said. “And if he’s saying these things about my daughter, who knows what he’s saying about other girls.”

In an email sent to Creswell High School families Monday afternoon, the two administrators apologized for “two unfortunate situations that ha(d) occurred.”

The text message exchange between Bracco and Osborn was referenced as “unkind comments which were seen by others at the school and shared more widely.”

Details of the text messages were not included in the apology email.

A second incident also was referenced in the email, during which Bracco made an “obscene” gesture with his middle fingers in a video that was meant for teacher use only, Hamilton said. In the video still, Bracco is seen sitting in his office at the school with both middle fingers raised.

“That happened last summer while the administrators were producing a video to introduce staff,” Hamilton said. “That was Andy and Jordan, and it was one of those unfortunate lapses of judgment; it was on video, and it wasn’t removed.”

Superintendent Hamilton said the behavior in both situations was unacceptable.

“As leaders of young adults in the community, our staff should be held to a higher standard,” Hamilton said. “The administrators failed that test. I would also add that the administrators deeply regret their actions, especially if their actions hurt or embarrassed any students, parents or staff.”