BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) – The incidents of Blytheville High School teachers engaging in sexual misconduct with students will not prompt a change in policy concerning teacher and student interactions, according to Blytheville Public Schools Superintendent Richard Atwill.
Former teachers Ashley Wolfe and Seth Parsons were sentenced recently for separate incidents of sexual encounters with students that occurred in 2012.
On June 17, Wolfe pleaded guilty to fourth degree sexual assault and was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting in November 2012 to having sex with a 15-year-old student on one occasion and another minor student on multiple occasions.
Parsons pleaded guilty on June 10 to first degree sexual assault after admitting in September 2012 to having intercourse with a 16-year-old student.
Supt. Atwill says teachers are rigorously screened before being hired and encouraged not to engage with students on social media.
"Once a teacher is suggested or recommended by the principal to me and then I recommend to the school board their hiring, first they have to go, by law, through an FBI background check," he said. "We advise teachers on Facebook and Twitter to not involve the students on their personal sites."
In addition, administrators can monitor activity on district computers on all campuses. "We have the ability with the technology in our district to look on a teacher's (computer) or any of the 3,500 computers in the district. We can look on any screen at any time for any location."
"I don't know that there would been anything that could've been done to prevent (the incidents), but many of the comments that I've gotten from a lot of the parents is that they're thankful that the children trust the teachers, will talk to them and that we acted quickly," Supt. Atwill said.
BPS administrators notified police November 2, 2012, about the first of the sexual relationships between Wolfe and one of the students after the student notified administrators, according to a police report. Wolfe surrendered to police November 5. School board members accepted a resignation from Wolfe November 8.
Parsons resigned from BPS shortly after his arrest September 25.
"We just have to trust that those people are going to do the right thing and when they don't do the right thing then they can't be around the children in Blytheville."
Wolfe and Parsons must register as sex offenders. Wolfe is incarcerated and eligible for parole November 9, 2013. Parsons was sentenced to five years probation.