Ex-teacher pleads not guilty to sexual contact with student

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Former Columbia County Teacher Scott Hooker was in court Tuesday on charges of inappropriately touching a former student in 2017.

Hooker plead not guilty and a bond hearing must be scheduled before he can get out of jail.

Hooker was arrested about a month ago, even though the school district was made aware of the incident five years ago.

Two months after Hooker was accused, the same student told officials he was intimidating her in the hallways.

Here’s how proper reporting could have prevented later incidents in a different school district.

Hooker’s alleged sexual assault in 2017, he finished out his time at Evans High School in Columbia County before going to Richmond County and then Burke County.

That’s where Hooker was involved in a similar incident as the one in 2017. We found there’s a certain set of rules that could’ve prevented Hooker from teaching after his first incident.

EARLIER COVERAGE:

The 2017 alleged sexual assault case involved Madison Cooksey at Evans High School. This is where Hooker’s patterns of inappropriate behavior started and could’ve ended if the correct steps were taken by teachers in the Columbia County School District.

Those steps didn’t happen, so Hooker went on to teach in Richmond and Burke counties before being arrested and charged in a similar incident as Cooksey’s.

What exactly are the guidelines if something like this happens?

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission oversees any individual with a teaching certification in the state. They create and follow a code of ethics for educators to follow while they have a certification to teach.

Standard 2 talks about conduct with students. Educators should maintain a professional relationship with all students, inside and outside the classroom.

Unethical conduct includes engaging in or permitting harassment or misconduct toward a student, soliciting or encouraging inappropriate written, verbal, electronic, or physical relationships with a student.

Standard 9 handles professional conduct and says unethical conduct includes actions or behavior or conduct that is detrimental to the health, welfare, discipline, or morals of students.

Educators are required to report a breach of one or more of the standards in the code of ethics for educators no later than 90 days from the date the educator became aware of an alleged incident.

An investigator with the commission says the only case they have is from April of 2022, meaning no one from Columbia County reported Hooker’s actions in 2017.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission does trials and investigations when these incidents happen. That means there must be probable cause, and when there isn’t, they expunge that person’s record.

They would have Hooker’s case if it was submitted and expunged.

What happens when no one reports anything from the school district? The investigator told us it’s hard to do anything they don’t know about.