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‘Solid case’ involving Harrisonville superintendent’s son and 3 teens awaits decision

Joe Dahman, son of Harrisonville superintendent, faces scrutiny

A Cass County school district is on edge after an educator was tied to an investigation of inappropriate contact with at least one student.
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A Cass County school district is on edge after an educator was tied to an investigation of inappropriate contact with at least one student.

Officials with the Harrisonville Police Department are “extremely frustrated” that a superintendent’s son has not yet been charged by prosecutors following an investigation of alleged misconduct with several students.

The department began investigating Joe Dahman, son of Harrisonville Superintendent Frank Dahman, after the district notified law enforcement of allegations of inappropriate contact between him and a student. He resigned from his role as a coach and in-school suspension supervisor at Harrisonville High in early September, shortly after the allegations came to light.

In the course of their investigation, Harrisonville police identified three potential victims, according to Lt. Chris Osterberg, a spokesman for Harrisonville police. All three were underage and all were students at Harrisonville High School at the time of the alleged misconduct, Osterberg said.

“We believe it’s a pretty solid case,” he said.

On Dec. 1, Harrisonville police submitted the results of the investigation to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, Osterberg said, signaling police supported charges against Joe Dahman.

The case is not being handled by Cass County prosecutors due to a conflict of interest. Officials have not yet elaborated on why there was a need for a special prosecutor.

Osterberg said Harrisonville police’s mounting frustration is a result of the nature of the case and the alleged victims.

“The type of victims we were dealing with — we believe the case should have had a little bit more priority,” he said.

Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, said the “case is under review and under investigation.”

Harrisonville Police Chief John Hofer also expressed frustration by the lack of criminal charges against Dahman.

“I know they’re very busy up there because they’re doing it for Cass ... but we felt we should have a decision by now — whether or not we’re going to have charges,” Hofer said, adding “As a law enforcement officer, you always feel that you have a very strong case. You pretty much don’t present unless you believe you’re going to get charges.”

Dahman has not been formally charged. A police department’s recommendation that charges be filed does not guarantee they will be.

harrisonville high school
File photo

Dahman had been a staff member at Harrisonville High since 2015.

His position, according to the district’s website, was listed as focus facilitator/ISS, or in-school suspension room supervisor. Dahman also served as an assistant coach for the football and wrestling teams.

In a news release signed by School Board President R.J. Knox in August, the school district said it had been made aware of an incident on Aug. 25, 2017, involving a staff member and student. The district said it then contacted law enforcement and the state Children’s Division.

As rumors circulated in the community about Joe Dahman’s conduct, so, too, did questions about his pay. During the 2015-16 school year, Joe Dahman’s first with the district, he was the highest-paid aide in the district, according to salary figures reported by the district to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

He earned a $25,000 salary that year, according to the state records. The other four aides with the same level of education as Joe Dahman — a bachelor’s degree — made an average of $17,404.50, despite having an average of eight years more experience than Dahman.

Salary-chart-web

By the 2016-17 school year, Joe Dahman’s base salary increased by $9,000, to $34,000. The two other focus facilitators in the district who also had bachelor’s degrees received an average raise of $532.50.

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg

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