BURLINGTON, Wis. — The Burlington Area School Board's sudden closed-door meeting on Thursday came after parents questioned the district's handling of accusations against a teacher's aide now charged with sexually assaulting multiple students.
No official in Burlington made themselves available for an interview on Thursday.
According to the school district, on April 13 it was made aware of allegations that Daniel Powers made students uncomfortable. That same day he was put on leave pending an investigation. Parents were notified more than a week later.
Powers had been with the district for 15 years. He was charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting three students. The Racine County Sheriff's Office believes there are likely more victims.
America Steinhable said she met Powers when she was a student at Dyer Elementary and needed help with math. Steinhable is about to celebrate her 20th birthday.
"I knew something was off when I was young and then I only confirmed that something was off when I was 14," Steinhable said.
Steinhable said she was not victimized or assaulted by Powers. However, he took her out to eat when she was 14.
"After that day I was uncomfortable that I told my mom. I don't think it's right that he's picking up students in his truck and that he's bringing us out to eat and he's trying to stay in my life," Steinhable recalled.
The former student said despite avoiding him since then Powers tried to stay in touch with her as recently as 2021. Steinhable says he learned she was a sexual assault survivor, something she openly speaks about today.
"That's one of the things that deeply disturbed me is that he tried to comfort me when I was a victim, when there could potentially be his own out there. That just makes me feel very disgusted," Steinhable said.
She hopes talking publicly will empower other victims to come forward.
"You are not the epitome of what happens to you, and it is very important to talk about it because you may be saving yourself and you may be saving some others," Steinhable said.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction opened an investigation into Powers' license on April 21 because he is accused of misconduct. A DPI spokesperson said there is no timeline as to how long their investigation will take.
If you believe your child has been victimized by Powers, please contact Investigator Andrew Willis at 262.636.3323 or email@example.com.