School resource officer fired over inappropriate texts with students

By Rob Polansky, David McKay (WFSB)

MANCHESTER, CT  — A school resource officer at a middle school in Manchester was fired, police and school officials confirmed.

Travis Francis was the SRO at the Illing Middle School.

According to an incident report provided by the police department, Francis exchanged inappropriate messages with a 13-year-old middle school student.

The documents state that a boy’s mother filed a complaint because she had copies of text messages that appeared to show an inappropriate relationship between Francis and her son.

The texts included messages like “I love you,” “I miss you so much,” “I need to see you” and “Let’s go to Florida and start over.”

The mother told Francis to stop the messages.

However, police said he didn’t.

During a review, investigators said they discovered a high volume of text conversations with at least four other students.

They said many of the texts were sent during inappropriate hours of the day, between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Jim Farrell, communications director for Manchester Public Schools, said Francis was previously assigned to the middle school by Manchester police.

Police also said Francis hosted two students at a sleepover at his house and took others on trips not condoned by the police department.

Capt. Chris Davis of the Manchester Police Department confirmed to Channel 3 that Francis was fired on Aug. 27.

As of Wednesday, he was not charged with a crime.

Off camera, Francis told Eyewitness News his intention was to help a troubled student.

Superintendent Matthew Geary released the following letter to the public schools community:

As you may have read or heard, a School Resource Officer who worked at Illing Middle School for the past two years has been terminated for cause by the Manchester Police Department. An internal police investigation revealed that the officer had inappropriate conversations and interactions with middle school students and exercised exceedingly poor judgment.

Despite this unfortunate and troubling story, I want to assure the MPS community that the school district remains committed to our School Resource Officer program and our strong, positive, important partnership with the Manchester Police Department. In this time of great concern regarding violence in schools, School Resource Officers are a vital part of our work to ensure school safety.

As you might recall, I served as the interim principal at Illing during the 2017-18 school year. In April, when a parent made police and school officials aware of text exchanges between the resource officer and a student, I was shocked and concerned. The police department pulled the officer from his position at Illing as it conducted its investigation and assigned a different officer to Illing for the remainder of the school year.

As this school year begins, we have a new School Resource Officer assigned to Illing. Also, as in years past, we have a Police Lieutenant and two SROs assigned to Manchester High School and another SRO who serves our alternative programs including Manchester Regional Academy.

At Illing, counselors and other staff are being especially vigilant to ensure that returning students who knew the previous officer receive appropriate support. I am aware that there are students and parents who have had positive experiences with the officer. However this is clearly difficult for all involved and our primary concern remains supporting the students involved in this case and ensuring that their school experience is positive and their right to privacy is protected.

Chief Marc Montminy has yet to comment.

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