School Employees' Actions Raise Red Flags for Parents and Education Leaders

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Red flags are rising for parents and education leaders after two cases of faculty members acting inappropriately toward students.

Tuesday, Martin Kirby, a JROTC instructor at George Washington High School, was arrested and accused of having sex with a student.

Police say the abuse happened in his office at the school. They say Kirby admitted that he had sex with the young girl several times in September 2010.

Also, Dusty Mullins was arrested in Jackson County, W.Va., earlier this month. Police say he sent sexual and inappropriate Facebook messages to a 15-year-old girl.

Three of the charges against him were dropped, but he still faces a count of trying to solicit a minor over the computer.

Wednesday, Mullins waived his right to a preliminary hearing on that charge. His case was sent to the grand jury.

With today's technology, it's easier for students to connect with teachers and instructors beyond classroom walls.

That's why the policies, and in some cases the parenting, are getting stricter.

“There are some teachers out there that take their authority a lot further than they should,” Michele Cummings, the parent of a teenager, said.

“Employees in this school system are in a position of trust,” Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ron Duerring said.

Duerring says it's the teacher or instructor's responsibility to avoid these situations -- both in and out of the classroom.

“It's not appropriate even on your own time. Not that we can monitor people 24/7, nights and weekends, but sometimes people just don't understand that either,” Duerring said. “Texting or being friends on Facebook, all of that can lead to trouble.”

Because of technology, that trouble can sometimes start at home. Some parents say it's all about keeping tabs on computers and cell phones.

“I'm all the time keeping an eye on her,” Cummings said.

“I'm a little more overprotective than most parents. Sometimes she says I go a little overboard, but it's my job ultimately to make sure she's safe,” Lori Pierson, the parent of a high school student, said.

Duerring says if there's any hint a school employee is acting inappropriately toward a student, report it immediately.

If there's cause for concern, that employee will be suspended right away for a thorough investigation.

The consequences depend on what's found during the investigation.

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