Burke County school let accused teacher go back to work

Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 11:56 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2022 at 2:04 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A teacher returned to work for at least a couple of days after being accused of groping a student at Burke County High – an incident strikingly similar to what he’d been accused of in 2017 in another district.

Scott Hooker, 40, of Augusta, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of improper sexual contact by an employee (teacher), sexual battery and simple battery, according to deputies. He was booked into the Burke County Detention Center and posted bond, according to deputies.

Burke County school officials said Friday they didn’t know about the 2017 incident at Evans High School. Although the 2017 case resulted in incident reports from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Hooker was not arrested or charged.

“The use of information obtained by fingerprint criminal background checks is heavily regulated and we do not comment upon those results,” the Burke County School System said in a statement. “Generally speaking, however, someone who was never charged, arrested, or convicted would not have a charge, arrest, or conviction on their criminal background.”

The district also gave News 12 a timeline on what happened to Hooker between March 29 – when he was accused of groping a 16-year-old girl – and his arrest this week.

The high school received a statement regarding potentially inappropriate behavior and made contact with the the district’s human resources department, which then began an investigation.

Hooker was placed on administrative leave beginning March 29 pending the outcome of that investigation. Administrative leave is paid, the district told News 12 earlier this week, because employees are entitled to due process before being placed on unpaid leave.

At the conclusion of the investigation, based on the findings, Hooker was notified he could return to work on April 20 after meeting with human resources, the district said Friday.

“He was advised of the findings of the investigation, actions to be taken, and due process,” the district said in a statement.

However, this Monday, “we received notification of an ongoing investigation and possible charges stemming from the investigation by law enforcement,” the district said.

“The employee was then instructed to work from home until further notice. That was his last day on campus.”

Hooker was arrested Wednesday

Details emerge about alleged groping

In a newly released report, deputies detail the alleged groping that landed Hooker in jail.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office said deputies learned of the problem about a month ago from a female student’s mother.

The girl said that for about two weeks, Hooker had been making her uncomfortable by hugging her from behind and tugging her hair while she was at lunch.

Finally, Hooker hugged her from behind on March 25, “causing his hands to rub across her breast area,” according to an incident report from deputies.

Deputies wrote that multiple students witnessed this and an assistant principal was told of it by one of the students.

Hooker was the subject of similar complaints in 2017 when he worked at Evans High School, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

In a deputy’s incident report dated Feb. 14, 2017, a 16-year-old girl alleged Hooker “had inappropriately touched her.”

It’s unclear whether he was arrested or suspended, but we know he was still a teacher at Evans High in April of 2017, when authorities were called once again.

The victim told News 12 she was homebound for two months due to trauma from the incident. After she returned, Hooker was barred from contacting her or being near her.

He violated that rule, according to a second incident report from deputies.

On April 12, 2017, Hooker came to a group of people the girl was working with in the library and began to engage in conversation with them while constantly looking at her, according to a second incident report. Then the next day, he stood next to her while she was in a hallway and also purposefully took walking paths that passed by her, all while staring at her, according to the report.

The girl said that due to the February incident, she felt intimated and scared of him.

By 2018, he’d moved on to Burke County High School, according to his LinkedIn profile, where he worked until he was put on administrative leave this week after he was arrested.

According to the Burke County School System, he’s entitled to due process before unpaid leave is imposed.

“The school district would never knowingly compromise the safety and well-being of students,” Superintendent Dr. Angela Williams said in a statement. “Once the complaint was filed, the employee was immediately placed on administrative leave pending investigation and is not currently working on campus. We have cooperated fully with the appropriate governmental agencies in connection with this investigation and will continue to do so. Any additional information will be released by law enforcement.”

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