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School district employee jailed for alleged sexual abuse of a minor


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POCATELLO — An employee at Highland High School in Pocatello has been arrested for having inappropriate contact with a student.

Eric Popely, a former employee at Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25, was arrested Thursday and charged with sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 16.

He is currently incarcerated in the Bannock County Jail.

District 25 confirmed Popely was an employee and that his employment ended Tuesday. However, due to its policy, District 25 would not confirm Popely was under investigation.

The district did release a statement Wednesday that one of their employees had been placed on administrative leave on Jan. 21, in relation to a Title IX investigation. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs. When necessary, the district turns those investigations over to the police. This was one of those times.

The statement said the employee is no longer employed by Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 and the matter has been turned over to the Pocatello Police Department.

“As a public school district, we accept the responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of our learners and staff in a positive learning environment,” Superintendent Dr. Douglas Howell said in an emailed statement. “This is an obligation that we take very seriously, and one that prompts us to take swift, consistent action when necessary.”

The district reaffirmed that confidentiality laws protect both students and staff members in these cases.

No other information about the case was expected to be released Wednesday.