PELION, SC (WIS) - A complaint filed with Pelion Middle School administration brought to light concerns about the background of a volunteer working with one of the school's sports teams and in a relationship with one of the school's teachers.
The man, whose name was not released by the school district but independently confirmed by WIS, is currently on probation until 2021 for first-degree assault and battery out of Aiken County. The former volunteer pleaded guilty in May 2016 to the aforementioned charges down from an original charge of third-degree criminal sexual assault, according to South Carolina Judicial online records.
A spokesperson with Lexington School District One 1 says the volunteer was assisting his fiance, who was a coach with the girl's volleyball team and delivered lunches to students on out of town field trips without undergoing the district's required background screening.
"District and school administrators began an investigation. Acting in accordance with Board Policy and district procedure, district administrators placed the teacher on leave pending an inquiry into the situation," the school district said in a statement. "This is a standard operating procedure, which enables the district to investigate any situation before determining an appropriate course of action."
Principal Jeff Matthews received information about the volunteer in early may and told the teacher he could not return to volunteer. The volunteer has not been back at the school since. As a part of the investigation, the teacher was placed on and remains on administrative leave.
"Our initial investigation indicates that he was never alone with students and has not been on campus since early May. However, district administrators continue to investigate the level of this individual's supervision of students and responsibilities," the district's statement continued.
Lexington School District 1 explained its background check policy, including a district-mandated requirement to fill out a human resources document, HR 64 Volunteer Profile and Consent Form prior to volunteering on or off school district property. The school district goes further, completing an additional background check if a volunteer directly interacts and is responsible for the safety of its students. That includes chaperones, volunteer coaches, mentor, volunteer helper with students.
"In this particular case, the individual in question did not fill out the HR 64 Volunteer Profile and Consent Form and should have," the statement said.
To enter the school, an automated system runs a check on all victims against a list of registered sex offenders in the area each time that person visits.
"Should the system flag an individual for any reason, the system will automatically and privately alert the front office staff and the school's administrators," the district's statement said. "The front office staff ran the volunteer in question through the system which checked him against a list of registered sex offenders. The system did not flag the volunteer because the individual in question is not a registered sex offender."