Iowa Catholic school teacher accused of soliciting relationships with female students

When an Iowa coach, teacher or administrator is thought to be in violation of ethical standards, the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners investigates and when appropriate impose sanctions to their license. Mackenzie Ryan / The Register

Michael Mahoney, a former Wahlert Catholic teacher, and football coach is fighting accusations that he solicited a romantic or otherwise inappropriate relationship with a student.(Photo: Special to the Register)

A former Catholic school teacher and football coach in Dubuque is fighting accusations that he solicited a romantic or otherwise inappropriate relationship with a student.

Michael Mahoney, 43, taught social studies and religion at Wahlert Catholic High School in Dubuque from 2001 until he resigned this summer.

Mahoney is being accused of communicating with female students through social media, giving students inappropriate gifts, and encouraging and fostering inappropriate relationships during the 2016-17 school year, according to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

“We’re confident that once all the facts are known it will be clear — to the board, the administrative law judge, and the public — that Mr. Mahoney has committed no wrongdoing,” his attorney Chris Stewart said.

Mahoney is being asked to surrender his license by the Board of Educational Examiners, which oversees educational licenses and coaching authorizations.

Additional information about the board’s investigative findings was not available.

Zoë Houlihana, a spokeswoman for Holy Family Catholic Schools, which oversees Wahlert and other Catholic schools in Dubuque, declined to comment for this story.

By fighting the accusations, Mahoney is defending his ability to teach and coach in Iowa schools.

His attorney filed a motion to dismiss the ethics charge he faces. Licensing sanctions can range from a public reprimand, suspension of license or permanent revocation.

Mahoney is not facing criminal charges, Stewart said.

“His interactions with students have been nothing but professional and he denies all allegations,” said Stewart, an attorney with the Parrish Kruidenier law firm in Des Moines.

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Mahoney worked for Holy Family Catholic Schools for 16 years. He was Wahlert’s head football coach from 2008 to 2012, Stewart said.

In August, he served as a volunteer assistant football coach at Dubuque Senior High School, but that role ended once school officials learned about Mahoney’s upcoming license review.

“He is no longer serving in a volunteer capacity until the issue is resolved,” Dubuque Community School District spokesman Michael Cyze said.

The state licensing board received a complaint about Mahoney in June, and in August found probable cause to proceed with a hearing.

Mahoney holds an educational license with world history and American history endorsements, which is current through September 2021. He also holds a coaching license through March 2018.

A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 24 before an administrative law judge in Des Moines.

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