Laura Amero is an Ohio schools superintendent accused of having sex with a student and trying to have sex with another student while she was working as a principal, authorities say. Amero has been suspended without pay by the Windham Exempted Village Schools district after she was arrested on April 22. Amero is also accused of trying to intimidate victims or witnesses in the case, according to Portage County court records.
Amero, a 35-year-old Ohio native, became the district’s superintendent on February 1, 2019, after the previous school chief retired. Amero was previously the principal of Windham Junior/Senior High School. She was working there at the time the alleged sexual battery and attempted sexual battery occurred, according to court documents. The case was investigated by the Windham Police Department and she was arrested by the Portage County Sheriff Department. The Portage County Prosecutor’s Office and police have not commented further about the accusations against Amero.
Amero was charged with two second-degree felony charges of sexual battery, two fourth-degree charges of attempted sexual battery and two first-degree misdemeanor charges of intimidation of a crime victim or witness, according to court documents. A grand jury returned an indictment on those charges against her on April 19 and a warrant was issued for her arrest on April 22. Amero was released from custody on bail after making her first court appearance that same day.
Amero has pleaded not guilty. She and her attorney have not commented about her arrest and the charges against her. Amero’s next court hearing is scheduled for May 31.
Here’s what you need to know about Laura Amero:
1. Laura Amero Is Accused of Sexual Battery Against a 16-Year-Old Student in 2017 & Attempted Sexual Battery Against Another 16-Year-Old Student in 2015-2016
Laura Amero is accused of sexual battery and attempted sexual battery for incidents that police say occurred in 2015, 2016 and 2017 while she was the principal at Windham Junior/Senior High School, according to court documents obtained by Heavy.
In the first count of sexual battery, Amero is accused of engaging in “sexual conduct” with a student who was born in February 2001. The alleged sexual battery occurred between February 24, 2017 and May 24, 2017, according to court documents. The second count of sexual battery involves the same student, born in 2001, and allegedly occurred on or about June 18, 2017, according to court documents.
Amero is accused of attempted sexual battery with a student born in July 1999, according to court documents. The first count alleges the attempted sexual battery took place between September 1, 2015, and May 1, 2016. The second count of attempted sexual battery alleges the activity took place between September 1, 2016, and May 1, 2017, according to police.
The age of consent in Ohio is 16, according to state law, but Ohio law makes it illegal for teachers, administrators, coaches or other authority figures employed by a school district to engage in sexual activity with a student attending a school in that district.
Amero is also accused of two counts of trying to intimidate a witness or victim, according to court documents. The first count of witness intimidation is alleged to have taken place on or about March 28, 2019, while Amero was the superintendent of the Windham school district. The second alleged incident of witness intimidation also took place on March 28, 2019, according to court documents.
Court documents do not reveal any other details about the alleged witness intimidation. Amero was placed on paid administrative leave by the school district on April 1 after the district was notified of the police investigation, according to a statement. After Amero was arrested on April 22, the Windham school board voted to suspend Amero without pay while the criminal case plays out, the Kent Record-Courier reports.
“We can bring in counselors but right now we haven’t seen that problem,” Board President Darryl McGuire told the newspaper after the meeting. “The acting superintendent is on top of that with the principals and are working on that issue, but our main focus is concentrating on education.”
McGuire said a search for a new superintendent would begin “in due time,” and they have discussed whether an internal investigation would be appropriate.
2. She Was Given the $96,500 Superintendent Job After Working as a Principal in the Windham School District for 3 Years
Laura Amero took over as superintendent of the Windham school district on February 1, 2019, after previously working as a principal in the school district for three years. Amero was being paid $96,500 and had a three-year contract with the school district. Amero was named superintendent in 2018 after her predecessor announced he would be retiring in 2019.
Amero was appointed as assistant superintendent in August 2018 and served in that role until Gregg Isler retired.
After stepping into the top role, Amero told the Record-Courier she was excited about the job. “I didn’t sleep much last night,” Amero told the newspaper. “I was thinking about what my day would look like now that I am officially on my own. I know I can’t predict each day, but it’s a different feeling … I can actually own the position now and dig my heels in even more as I start to leave my mark.”
Amero added, “I was ready to come back to work and interact with the students and staffThey’re the best part of my day. It’s nice to have time to get caught up; however, I am a mover. The most rewarding times are when I am in the classroom with the students and see them growing as learners and individuals.”
According to the Record-Courier, there are about 500 students in the district and 90 staff members, including 54 teachers.
“Definitely our strength is our small size,” Amero told the newspaper. “Our teachers can talk about any kid at anytime. They know exactly how they learn, how they should be acting so if something is off, they pick it up immediately. Then the team comes in and contacts whoever at home or has a simple conversation with the kid.”
Amero told the newspaper the official social media term for the district is #WindhamFamily. “Our teachers get along, everyone’s involved, top to bottom, and that ripples down to classroom instruction,” she told the Record-Courier. She said the teachers are always willing to try new things.
She added, “The community has welcomed me since day one. I considered myself an outsider because I’m from Boardman, I live in Austintown … but I almost feel like I went to Windham. I love coming to work everyday. It’s so easy to come here because of the community, the staff and ultimately the kids.”
3. Amero Graduated From Boardman High School & Youngstown State University Before Working as a Teacher at Campbell Memorial High School & Western Reserve High School
Laura Amero is an Ohio native and graduated from Boardman High School. After high school, Amero attended Youngstown State University.
Amero graduated from Youngstown in 2006 with a degree in education.
Amero later returned to Youngstown and completed her master’s degree in educational administration and also received her principal’s and superintendent’s certificate from the university.
Amero worked as a teacher in Mahoning County for seven years. She taught 10th grade English, first at Campbell High School and then at Western Reserve High School, according to her now-deleted Linkedin profile.
Amero was a curriculum supervisor at the Mahoning County Educational Service Center for two years and then was hired as a principal in the Windham school district in 2015, working at the junior and senior high school.
Amero has also worked as a softball instructor and coach at Sluggers of Ohio.
According to reports, Amero had no previous disciplinary issues. She also did not have a prior criminal record, except for four speeding infractions in Mahoning County.
4. She Was Married in 2012 to a Fellow Western Reserve Teacher, but They Divorced a Year Later
Laura Amero was married in 2012 to a fellow teacher in the Western Reserve school district, Jacob Zatchok, according to court documents. They were divorced a year later, in October 2013, court documents show.
She does not have any children.
Amero worked for her future father-in-law while teaching at Western Reserve, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The newspaper obtained her personnel file from the Western Reserve school district.
Principal Jeff Zatchok wrote in her 2009-2010 review comments that were all positive, except for, “work to maintain a solid boundary between student/teacher differences,” according to the newspaper.
The newspaper noted that “a 2012 peer evaluation praised Amero for her engaged students, class management and organization.”
5. Amero Was Released From Custody on $350,000 Bail & She Faces Up to 14 Years in Prison if Convicted of All the Charges Against Her
Laura Amero appeared in court for her arraignment on April 22 and pleaded not guilty. She was released from custody after posting $350,000 bail.
Amero faces between 1 to 5 years on the two third-degree felony charges of sexual battery. She also faces between 6 months to 18 months in prison on the two fourth-degree attempted sexual batter charges and up to 6 months on each of the intimidation charges.