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Former teacher sentenced to probation, fines for domestic violence charge

Former Computer Science and English Teacher Jason Bohrer enters the Nevada County Courthouse on Friday, Nov. 16 for a hearing. Photo by Zach Fink

Former Computer Science and English Teacher Jason Bohrer has been sentenced with a misdemeanor charge of Corporal Injury to a Spouse/Cohabitant. His sentence requires him to serve 90 days in custody, with credit for time served, and three years of supervised probation. He must also pay fines and attend a Batterer Intervention Program.

According to online public records from the Nevada County Courts, these charges were originally filed on November 3, 2017. The circumstances resulted in Mr. Bohrer’s departure from Bear River High School.

Over the course of the sentencing, Defense Attorney Rachel Miller, who represented Mr. Bohrer, consistently brought up the extent of support for him from the community.

“He has numerous letters of recommendation and support, not only from the community, but also from those whom he has worked with,” said Ms. Miller. 

According to Judge Candace S. Heidelberger, the letters include support from English Teacher Toby Barmeyer, Social Studies Teacher Matt MacDonald, Former Athletics Director Duwaine Ganskie, Computer Science Teacher Jeremy Kerr, and Former Bear River Principal Dr. Amy Besler. 

This support from coworkers was one factor in Judge Heidelberger’s decision to sentence Mr. Bohrer to a misdemeanor charge instead of a felony. Both Ms. Miller and Judge Heidelberger emphasized that the severity of the charge would have a major impact on Mr. Bohrer’s future career as a teacher. 

“In looking at this case, I agree that the nature and facts show it to be less serious than that of other crimes of a similar nature,” said Judge Heidelberger. “… The likely effects of imprisonment on the defendant would be significant. … The court believes that in this case, exercising discretion is appropriate, and it is the court’s decision to do so.”

According to the Superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District, Brett McFadden, due to the fact that Mr. Bohrer’s charges have been reduced to a misdemeanor, the school board will make a decision regarding Mr. Bohrer’s possible return to the district in the future. Superintendent McFadden will make a recommendation to the school board, but ultimately the decision will not be up to him, he said.

“It will depend on the misdemeanor,” said Superintendent McFadden. “There are levels to a misdemeanor conviction, and it will depend on what the court states. I’m concerned with the nature of the allegations against the individual, and I’m concerned as to the severity of any potential crime. Because the accusations involve or potentially involve an element of violence, I’m concerned. That isn’t a type of individual I would want in this district. I don’t want him anywhere near kids.”

Mr. Bohrer, who also taught Frosh Tech and coached Junior Varsity Football, had worked at Bear River High School since 2006 and is now on unpaid leave, said Dr. Besler. As a tenured teacher, Mr. Bohrer is an official employee of the Nevada Joint Union High School District, until the school board decides otherwise. He has declined to comment for this story.

Dr. Besler explained how administration worked around Mr. Bohrer’s sudden removal from the classroom. 

“Administrators are constantly in a position of rolling with the punches in a whole variety of ways,” said Dr. Besler. “When challenges occur, we work collaboratively with our site and district teams to determine the best possible path forward in order to do right by our students.”

For the 2017-18 school year, Mr. Bohrer’s position was covered by long-term substitute teacher Mr. Kerr. Mr. Kerr has since become the official Computer Science teacher on record, said Dr. Besler.

“Mr. Bohrer was on leave from the district for an undetermined length of time,” said Dr. Besler. “The job still belonged to him and, therefore, all we were able to do was have a substitute teacher in his place.”

Students reflected back to how they felt about Mr. Bohrer’s teaching style.

“I thought he was super chill, kinda pretty cool,” said Senior Jaden Watson. “He was easy to talk to and nice to have as a teacher.”

Senior Shelbi Beghetti said that she agreed with Watson.

“I personally really like Mr. Bohrer as a teacher,” said Beghetti. “He’s always super nice and he always went to all of our events whether it was dance shows or sports games. It was super cool.”

Some students shared a more complex view of the teacher.

“I thought that he was a little harsh, but I learned what I needed to learn and I got good grades,” said Senior Jared Baze.

“You could say he had a very interesting sense of humor, kind of childish,” said Junior Justin Roberts. “His sense of humor reminded me of my fellow students sense of humor. He was kind of immature.”

Dr. Besler described how Mr. Kerr has stepped up to the challenge of leading the Computer Science program.

“We are fortunate that Mr. Kerr has excitedly jumped into taking the reins of the Computer Science pathway this year,” said Dr. Besler. “He has undertaken countless professional learning opportunities in the past few months in order to fully grasp all the aspects of the CS curriculum and pathway, including several week-long conferences throughout the summer. His experience last year in the substitute role enabled him to develop a solid understanding of the foundational elements and I know he is feeling exponentially more confident and competent this year.”

Last year, staffing uncertainties affected students at Bear River.

“There is no doubt that the staffing issues have been challenging for students due to the lack of continuity and uncertainty about the future of the Computer Science pathway,” said Dr. Besler. “… That being said, we were fortunate to have Mr. Kerr and [Daniel Crossen] willing to step in and work really hard to support students and bring stability to the situation. Last year, they were able to collaborate with Mr. Bohrer and utilize his lesson materials, which was helpful.”

Many Bruins expressed surprise after hearing about the charges. One said they would’ve never expected this turn of events.

“He wasn’t the person I’d expect it from because I had him as a football coach and he was always harsh, but he wasn’t cruel at all,” said Baze. 

Others have personal connections to Mr. Bohrer.

“My family actually personally knows Mr. Bohrer outside of school and teaching,” said Beghetti. “I’ve grown up knowing him and I was a really close friend of (Bohrer’s daughter), so I would have never expected that from him personally, just because I felt like I knew him on a deeper level outside of school.”

— Sonora Slater and Zach Fink contributed to this report.

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Former teacher sentenced to probation, fines for domestic violence charge