Former Axtell Park teacher charged for alleged relationship with - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Former Axtell Park teacher charged for alleged relationship with teen

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A former Axtell Park Middle School teacher has been arrested for allegedly raping a former student.

Tonya Marie Drueppel, 33, faces three counts of fourth degree rape and two counts of sexual contact with a child under 16. She is currently held at the Minnehaha County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond.

During a news conference this afternoon, Superintendent Pam Homan said Drueppel was no longer employed with the district.

Drueppel resigned from the school district in May of 2013. She was a teacher at Axtell Park Middle School.

Homan said this is a painful and shocking case.

"Safety is always our number one concern. And when we know that an event, a person or anything that puts a child at risk, we deal with it and we with it as quickly as we can," said Homan.

Homan says the information she has now is that nothing happened on school grounds.

The investigation began on January 22, when police received a referral from the Department of Social Services about a 14-year-old girl who was having some type of relationship with Drueppel.

It is believed this relationship began in 2012.

The affidavit filed with the Sioux Falls Police Department says the victim told officers her relationship with Drueppel was physical between October 2012 and December 2012.

The affidavit describes several alleged encounters between Drueppel and the victim, the most recent on January 24. It says that officers found the victim and Drueppel together then at the Nites Inn in Sioux Falls. The victim hadn't shown up for school that day, and Drueppel had called in sick from her job at Tea Tots daycare.

The affidavit said that when officers entered the hotel room, Drueppel was trying to hang herself with an electrical chord in the bathroom.

She was taken into custody and transported to the Law Enforcement Center where she was interviewed by officers.

When Drueppel was taken in for questioning is when she confirmed that she had a relationship with her former student. She also stated they were a support system for one another.

Superintendent Pam Homan says a phone call would be sent out Wednesday evening to all Axtell Park Middle School Parents. The call would inform them that a former employee has been arrested and charged with inappropriate behaviors with a minor. If their child shares any concerns or has any information, they're asked to call the Sioux Falls Police Department.

Drueppel is expected in court on Thursday.

Stay with KSFY News and for updates on this developing story.

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