Kingsport Times News Saturday, April 19, 2014

Local News

Hawkins sheriff not planning charges against teacher who sent texts to student

April 8th, 2013 9:01 pm by Jeff Bobo

CHURCH HILL — Although it has been confirmed that texting did take place last month between a male teacher at Volunteer and a female student, a Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office investigation has revealed nothing that would merit charges.


HCSO Chief Deputy Tony Allen told the Times-News Monday the investigation remains open, however.


“If new information comes up we will re-evaluate it to see if charges need to be filed,” Allen said.


On March 27, the mother of a 17-year-old female VHS student reportedly found text messages between her daughter and a male teacher on the girl’s cell phone.


The mother then took the phone to school and reported the texts.


Allen acknowledged Monday that the rumor mill has been working overtime since the texting was reported to the school. Some of the rumors have suggested extremely inappropriate conversations took place in the text messages.


Allen said the situation was “blown out of proportion, not by the daughter and the mother, but by everybody else.”


After a two-week investigation the sheriff’s office concluded Monday that nothing illegal had taken place and no criminal charges would be placed against the teacher.


“What the text messages said was not as bad as what has been rumored,” Allen said. “There was nothing vulgar, and there was no solicitation of a minor, and no charges are going to be filed. At this time it’s going to be a school issue.”


Despite the lack of evidence of criminal activity, the girl’s mother reportedly stated that she felt the communications were inappropriate. The text messages weren’t about school related issues or homework, Allen said.


“The messages were more or less general conversation,” Allen said. “Where people thought it got vulgar is completely untrue. One of the text messages he said something like, ‘You look nice today’ — and that was the riskiest thing the text messages revealed.”


Allen added, “If it was something we felt we had to step in and take care of, we would have filed charges. The mother seemed to feel confident that the school would be able to handle the situation on their end of it.”


Hawkins County Director of Schools Charlotte Britton said Monday she couldn’t comment specifically about this situation or if the teacher in question has been disciplined.


“I can assure the students, parents, community and staff of all Hawkins County Schools any matter of concern is investigated and dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner,” Britton said. “All Hawkins County Schools personnel sign a Hawkins County Schools employee code of conduct with our system and any issues with employees are investigated and disciplined, if appropriate.”


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