Children deserve the highest degree of protection from predators. Aside from home, school plays a key role in protecting children from sexual abuse. They support children and help keep them safe in school and beyond.
It is often a school’s duty to protect children. They must focus not only on safe recruitment but also on the need to create a safe environment. However, what will you do? When is a particularly convicted sex offender working in a school where your child is in?
If an offender was on school premises, the school is the first agency to be notified, the school will be required to follow the Working Together to Safeguard Children Protocol, which should be enshrined in the school’s existing child protection procedures. A call should be made urgently, not just to the police but also to the local authority designated officer, who will consider the plan of action, but what this school in Virginia did will clearly make your blood boil!
Well, this appears to be nothing more than a colossal, catastrophic failure on the part of an inept school system: After learning that a counselor had been arrested for soliciting an underage prostitute, the Fairfax County school district (FCPS), infamous for its woke rules and disagreements with parents over teaching critical theory, reportedly waited a “YEAR” before firing him.
In November 2020, Darren Thornton, 50, who had formerly worked for Hanover County schools, was arrested in Chesterfield during an undercover conversation operation. He was working as a school counselor for Fairfax County Public Schools at the time.
Authorities said in court documents that Thornton had a conversation with a covert officer and arranged a meeting for sex. According to chat transcripts that were presented in the court filings, the officer informed Thornton that she was 17 and Thornton consented to meet up with her. Police greeted him when he arrived at the apartment, authorities said.
Thornton was also required to register as a registered sex offender with the Virginia State Police. The website says, he resides on Richmond’s 1300 block of Wentbridge Road. He worked for Hanover schools as a school counselor and boys varsity basketball coach from fall 2006 until spring 2020.
In June 2022, Thornton was detained in another online chat room for suspicion of soliciting prostitutes and frequenting a lewd establishment.
State law mandates that anyone charged with a felony who is known to be or is later shown to be a member of the school staff must be reported to the school superintendent by the arresting agency.
The Fairfax school system was informed about Thornton’s arrest in November 2020 the day after, in records kept by Chesterfield police, and again when Thornton was arrested in June of this year.
However, Julie Moult, a spokeswoman for Fairfax schools, claimed Thornton was still working for the school division when reached by The Times-Dispatch.
And parents are not happy.
Although Parents received a letter from Superintendent Reid outlining the “immediate action” that was taken to dismiss Thornton, “I will take whatever further correction actions are required to prevent this from happening again,” Reid said.
Sue Zoldak, a member of the advocacy organization Do Better FCPS, claims that the group is extremely dissatisfied, “It is astounding and once again disappointing that FCPS had demonstrated that the front office, as well as the school-level leadership, do not have a solid procedure for vetting staff and faculty.”