BERLIN — A Berlin High School teacher charged with having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student remains on paid leave.
"At this point to terminate, we have to have our own investigation,” said Superintendent of Schools Brian Benigni.
Michael Cwirka, 29, of 882 N. Colony Road, Apt. 9, Meriden, was charged Monday with three counts of second-degree sexual assault and five counts of fourth-degree sexual assault. He was arraigned in Meriden Superior Court on Tuesday.
A math teacher at Berlin High, Cwirka has been on paid leave since February 2018 when reports of the sexual relationship first surfaced. Benigni said statute requires that the leave be paid.
“The process to terminate his employment has been initiated and would typically be started following a conviction,” Benigni said. "There's an arrest but not a conviction.”
In a letter sent to parents Tuesday night Benigni wrote, “the safety and well-being of all students is and will always be the first priority in the Berlin Public Schools.”
“It is for that reason that the school district took immediate action, placing the teacher on administrative leave on February 9, as soon as the district learned of the investigation concerning the teacher’s alleged actions,” the letter continued. “School administrators have been in close contact with law enforcement authorities throughout the investigation and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. I am fully committed to ensuring the safety of all students and I also believe firmly that staff members must be accountable for their own actions.”
In February, Meriden police launched an investigation into allegations that Cwirka was involved in a relationship with a 17-year-old female senior at the school. The initial investigation showed the alleged sexual contact occurred in Meriden.
Police interviewed the student, who said Cwirka was her swim coach and class advisor. She told investigators about several instances of sexual contact, including incidents in February and March 2017, the warrant said.
Cwirka’s attorney, Ryan McGuigan, said outside of court that Cwirka “categorically denies” the allegations.