12 On Your Side: Aiken Co. teacher accused of reading 'pornography' to class

By: Staff Email
By: Staff Email
Schofield Middle School investigation

A teacher at Schofield Middle School is accused of reading "pornography" to students. (WRDW-TV / March 14, 2012)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- School officials failed to contact Aiken Public Safety after a student complained that his teacher read pornographic material aloud to his classroom.

Schofield Middle School officials refused an on-camera interview and would not answer questions from News 12's Elizabeth Owens.

The only information school officials would share was that "as in protocol, anytime someone is investigated, they are put on administrative leave." School officials said they would not comment because they were trying to protect employees' rights.

According to the incident report, a teacher had been reading pornographic material from the Internet to the students in class. One of the stories was about prostitutes having their faces covered with ejaculation.

"I'm at a loss for words, really," said Brenda Johnson after reading the allegations in the incident report. "I don't see how that's educational related at all."

Lt. David Turno said the allegations could result in criminal charges.

"There is a large law book we got to look through. Certainly one that comes to mind is contributing to the delinquency of a minor," he said.

Police only learned of the incident after a parent came to them. The report shows the mother first went to the school principal but was told by her, "they would handle it in-house."

South Carolina law requires school officials to go to law enforcement anytime there is a possibility of criminal activity. Public Safety officers say the school did not contact them about this case.

This isn't the first time Aiken County Public Schools have violated South Carolina law by failing to report possible crimes to law enforcement. News 12 On Your Side first told you about two students who reported they were sexually assaulted at school but school officials only went to deputies after the second student filed a report with law enforcement.

The teacher has not been charged at this time.

Statement from the Aiken County School District:
"The Aiken County Public School District releases the following information in connection with recent inquiries about allegations of inappropriate materials being utilized regarding the district's literacy initiative by a teacher at Schofield Middle School.

This incident involved a student's complaint concerning materials characterized by the student and his parent as pornographic. The complaint was communicated to the school last Friday and followed by a conference with the school administration Friday afternoon. The administration gathered a written statement by the student (normal procedures) and initiated an immediate investigation, indicating to the parent after reviewing the student's statement that the investigation would continue.

The administration, concerned with the report that the books in question being utilized by the teacher had curse words and terms that might not be age appropriate, continued the investigation on Monday the 12th. Early that morning, during the on-going review of these books and the gathering of more information about class occurrences, the administration was notified by law enforcement that the parent had filed a complaint with them as well.

Pending the investigation of this matter and the exchange of factual information with public safety, the matter has continued to be investigated and parent concerns dealt with. Two of three books that had been selected and utilized by the teacher were determined to have materials (primarily swear words) and, in some instances, subject matter terminology that the school administration considers inappropriate for the middle school age. At least one staff member is presently on administrative leave while this matter is being reviewed and the investigation completed.

The district and law enforcement work on a cooperative basis, and Aiken Public Safety will determine if any of the events in question violate the law. The administrative investigation will include a determination as to the timely following of reporting protocol, based upon all factual circumstances surrounding the nature of the complaint. Matters that involve personnel considerations are dealt with promptly but must take into account reasonable measures to protect the privacy of students and staff.

For additional information on reading material for middle grades, please contact Mrs. Joy Shealy, academic officer of Middle Schools, at (803) 641-2404 or jshealy@aiken.k12.sc.us."

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