Chief: System for reporting teacher arrests flawed - FOX Carolina 21

Chief: System for reporting teacher arrests flawed

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Students in an Upstate classroom. (File/FOX Carolina) Students in an Upstate classroom. (File/FOX Carolina)
From top-left to lower-right: Kimberly Anthony, Daniel Fahey, John Kilgallen and Kevin DeRossett. (Pickens Co. Detention Center) From top-left to lower-right: Kimberly Anthony, Daniel Fahey, John Kilgallen and Kevin DeRossett. (Pickens Co. Detention Center)
CENTRAL, SC (FOX Carolina) -

UPDATE: Daniel Fahey's charges were later dismissed following pretrial intervention and they were expunged from his record, according to court documents.

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In the past few months, there have been several teacher arrests, many in the same school district, but state law does not require law enforcement to report those arrests.

Law enforcement is required to report if a student is arrested, but not faculty. One Upstate police chief said that double standard needs to be fixed.

Central Police Chief Kerry Avery said teachers should also be reported, instead of relying on them to self-report on an honor system. He said officers have to fill out a form and turn it into the school the student attends.

"Just combine them; just have a little check box that says is this person employed by the school district," said Avery. "Are they a teacher or a student? That would be a pretty easy thing to do."

That form lets school administrators know all the specifics of a student's arrest, Avery said. As a parent, Avery said it concerns him that the same law does not apply to school employees.

"You really don't know who you are turning your kids over to," Avery said. "At the department of education and at many school districts, their employee manuals require employees to report to their supervisor if they have been arrested."

Jay Ragley with the South Carolina Department of Education said failure to report an arrest can result in a school employee being fired.

But Avery said it is naive to think that happens every time a teacher or employee is arrested. He said self-policing may work in smaller atmospheres but not in larger ones. Ragley also admitted that self-policing has its problems.

"When it comes to violent crimes or sex crimes, those are removed very quickly, but there is a possibility that minor crimes may go undetected," Ragley said.

Ragley and Avery both agree that good working relationships between law enforcement and schools can help keep a teacher with a pending charge out of the classroom.

"Given today's information, it's very unlikely that a serious crime will go unnoticed in a community in this state," Ragley said. "I think a bigger concern would be what if somebody was arrested in another state, county, where we didn't have that relationship, how would we know?"

John Eby, spokesman for the School District of Pickens County, said the district's close relationship with local law enforcement came into play recently with four arrests.

Kimberly Anthony and Daniel Fahey were arrested in September, accused of selling drugs. Both worked for Pickens County, where Anthony was a teacher at Gettys Middle School and Fahey was a school-to-work facilitator for the district.

Also in September, John Kilgallen was charged with sexual battery with a student after an investigation revealed he had a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old female student.

And in August, Kevin DeRossett was accused of exposing himself to a girl during a Bible camp. The Pickens County School District said after DeRossettc's arrest, he resigned as a teacher at Liberty High School.

"Usually they call us so quickly that the self-reporting doesn't become an issue," Eby said.

However, Eby said teachers are only required to have a background check when they are hired, and if there is an arrest after and it goes unnoticed or happens outside of the state and is not reported, that teacher could end up back in the classroom.

Eby said the Pickens County district would welcome a statewide policy change requiring law enforcement to report teacher arrests.

"We would love to have mandatory reporting, because we want to know, because we would want to start taking action," Eby said.

Both Pickens County and state education officials said, so far, there has not been an incident where a teacher facing serious charges has continued teaching.

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