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Associated Press , Published September 24 2013

Bismarck suspends teacher accused of having sex with 15-year-old boy

BISMARCK — The Bismarck School District has begun the process of firing a teacher accused of having sex with a teenage student earlier this year.

The School Board held a special meeting Tuesday and voted unanimously to immediately suspend Susan Duursma without pay, according to The Bismarck Tribune and KXMB-TV. The board will now work with its attorney on setting up a hearing before an administrative law judge, Superintendent Tamara Uselman said.

"It's just a tragedy all around, is what I would say," said Uselman, who forwarded a complaint about Duursma to police late last week after concluding it had merit. "Having learned about the report the school district acted very quickly and very swiftly took care of what needed to be taken care of, but this isn't a fun day for anyone."

Duursma, 34, is accused of a sex act with a 15-year-old boy three times between March and July, once in her home and twice in a vehicle. The Wachter Middle School physical education teacher faces three felony counts of corrupting or soliciting a minor.

Defense attorney Tom Dickson has told The Associated Press that Duursma will plead not guilty and eventually will tell her side of the story.

Duursma could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. She also could lose her license to teach in North Dakota.

The state Legislature in 2001 passed a law requiring the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board to revoke the license of any teacher convicted of a sex crime or crime against a child. There have since been 13 teachers banished from the classroom, KXMB-TV reported.

"We need to make sure those people working with our children are there to keep our children safe," said board Executive Director Janet Welk. "We should not be worried about what they (students) are coming in contact with on a daily basis."

Duursma is a graduate of North Dakota State University, according to a marriage announcement in the Bismarck Tribune.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Forum contributed to this report.