NC’s Dirty Little Secret: Lax Checking of Teachers

Excerpt From: Civitas Institute. Written By: 

North Carolina policymakers have expended considerable time and money trying to eliminate potential external threats to the state’s public schools. But what they didn’t tell us is that the public schools seem to do too little to protect students once they enter the classroom.

Hardly a week goes by without some charge of teacher misconduct filling the local media. Consider news stories about a Johnston County teacher, Latoya Snead. In early 2016, over the course of three months, Snead sent hundreds of text messages to one of her eighth-grade male students.

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Last November, the (Raleigh) News & Observer reported that Devon Ross Lategan, a science teacher at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, was facing felony criminal charges for having sex with a high school student when he worked at Henderson County Public Schools.

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The same story mentioned that earlier in the month another Wake County teacher, Timothy Allen Bennett, a music teacher at Sanderson High School, was also arrested on charges of having sex with a 17-year-old male student when he worked at South Lenoir High School.

Aren’t teachers’ backgrounds supposed to be checked before they enter the classroom? The present problems seem to derive from an awful combination of incompetence and unwillingness to address the dangers.

The Snead case illustrates these points. Because she resigned her position in Johnston County before the conclusion of a formal investigation, there was no formal complaint, criminal allegation or paper trail following her. After Snead resigned, Johnston County Schools forwarded the case to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), which oversees cases involving ethics and teacher licensure. No action was recommended regarding Snead’s license.

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