In his campaign materials, Bedford Town Councilor and former Executive Council candidate Michael Strand’s story always begins “eleven years ago,” with his work at a successful start-up staffing firm in 2014.

No mention of his work teaching history and English at Palatka High School in Putnam County, Fla. the year before.

Perhaps that’s because Strand was stripped of his teaching credentials by the state of Florida after having sex with a Palatka High School student and lying about it to administrators.

In a final order filed on July 31, 2013 by the Education Practices Commission of the State of Florida, Strand’s “educator’s certificate is hereby suspended for a period of three years,” according to the order. He was also ordered to take a three-credit-hour college course in ethics and pay a $500 fine.

Instead, Strand resigned his teaching position and moved to the Granite State. He would soon get elected to Bedford Town Council and, until Monday, be a candidate for the Executive Council seat being left open by Ted Gatsas’ retirement.

Strand confirmed to NHJournal the basic outline of the events in Florida, though he disputed some of the facts in the final order filed by the state of Florida.

According to the state’s findings:

“In February 2012, Respondent [Strand] engaged in a sexual relationship with an eighteen-year-old female who, at the time, was a student of Palatka High School.

“On or about April 3, 2012, [redacted] informed Respondent that she was pregnant, at which point Respondent accepted responsibility for the baby and agreed to help financially.”

However, when rumors began to spread around the school about the pregnancy and Strand was confronted, he and the girl denied the relationship. At one point he was even shown a photo of the pregnant girl and “after being asked if Respondent had ever seen student Respondent stated, ‘No I have never seen her” or words to that effect,'” according to the order.

Soon after, Strand “was suspended from his position with Putnam County Schools and recommended for termination.” He later resigned.

According to the state of Florida, Strand did not respond to the formal complaint when it was made, or request a hearing or challenge any of the facts. Strand confirmed that to NHJournal on Wednesday, but said the finding of fact wasn’t complete and lacked context.

In Strand’s version, given to NHJournal in a statement, Strand — who was 27 at the time — met the girl at a local bar. “We had a consensual one-time encounter. Only later did I realize she was an 18-year-old student at the school where I worked.” She wasn’t one of his students, Strand said.

There was no “intimate relationship” after that, Strand said. And while the report is correct that he offered to be financially responsible for the baby, Strand claims he “later learned the baby was not mine.”

“It is unfortunate that some individuals have chosen to leverage and circulate this information for personal, political gain,” Strand added.

It’s true that the story of Strand’s Florida past began circulating around the same time he dropped out of the Executive Council primary. Strand says he has “zero intention of resigning” from his seat on the Bedford Town Council over something that happened 12 years ago. However, Strand also told NHJournal he had already decided he had “no intention of running for another term” on the council before the story broke.

In addition to the Bedford Town Council, Strand serves as Bedford Citizen Representative on the state PFAS Commission. Before dropping out of the Executive Council race, he had been endorsed by progressive Democrats like Rep. Alissandra Murray (D-Manchester) and state Sen. David Watters (D-Dover).

Strand insists the news about his trouble in Florida had nothing to do with his departure from the Executive Council race, which he acknowledges was “abrupt.” He says his reasons for dropping out are all in the statement he released on Monday, in which he endorsed fellow Democrat Jim O’Connell.

But two Bedford residents who spoke to NHJournal on background expressed their doubts.

“Have you been to Bedford? [Strand’s] got signs everywhere. He’s spent a lot of money. He was obviously running hard. You don’t just drop out to do the party a favor.”