BLOUNT COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Blount County district attorney Pamela Casey is speaking out about what she calls “serious problem of under reporting” inappropriate contact between teachers and students in the county.
Casey says social media and text messaging play a role in the on-going problem of teachers developing these relationships with students and she’s taking a serious look into it.
In the last three months, two school employees from Susan Moore High School have found themselves behind bars.
One, former girls basketball coach Warren Kelley for harassment and second-degree sex abuse.
The other is Crystal Clowdus, who recently plead guilty to sending nude photos and inappropriate text messages to a 15-year-old student.
“Mrs. Clowdus accepted responsibility for her actions and there is a lot to be said about an individual who will accept responsibility for their actions,” said Casey.
She adds that the parents of the student are happy with the result of the case. Clowdus received a 10-year sentence, but nine of those years will be suspended. She’ll serve six months in the Blount County Correctional Facility, followed by six months of house arrest.
Following her one year in detention, Clowdus will have a five-year probation period and will also be required to register as a lifetime sex offender and surrender her teaching license.
Casey questions the actions of school officials.
She says the principal allegedly knew about the situation three weeks before the parents but wanted to, “keep it in house.” The parents of the student went to the DA’s office.
“I believe there are other instances in Blount County that have occurred where reporting did not take place,” she said.
According to Susan Tudor Crowther, Assistant General Counsel for the Alabama Department of Education says school systems are required to report disciplinary action taken against a teacher to the state board of education, but until action is taken, “It’s something we take seriously and I think the local school systems do, if they’ve been notified of that, but that would be up to them whether they go ahead and terminate or put the person on leave, but all employment issues are handled at the local school system.”
The Blount County DA is looking into whether schools in the county are failing to report inappropriate teacher/student relationships,” said Crowther.
The Alabama Bureau of Investigation is looking into the allegations against officials at Susan Moore.
Susan Crowther says if any parent has proof of an inappropriate teacher/student relationship and feels it isn’t being handled adequately, they can contact the State Department of Education.
2014 WIAT-TV CBS42