GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — The superintendent of Germantown schools was answering questions Friday, days after WREG first broke the news about two back-to-back scandals at Houston High School.
William Rayburn, the choir teacher at Houston, is still suspended pending an investigation into allegations that he kissed and touched students, and made inappropriate comments.
And this week, a police report from August came to light about the school's former principal, Kyle Cherry, who admitted he went intto a teacher's backyard at midnight and climbed up a ladder near a bedroom window after a night of drinking. Cherry resigned abruptly Friday.
Superintendent Jason Manuel's responses are below.
WREG: When did you all find out about these allegations (about Rayburn)?
Manuel: I would have to find the exact date. I can’t give you an exact date. But this is the 13th day he’s been on suspension.
We take these types of allegations very seriously. The first step for us is contacting the Department of Child Services. We also contact the Germantown Police Department. It’s not our responsibility to determine whether it’s criminal or not. They will be investigating these reports and allegations.
We do have an HR team that is going to do a thorough investigation. Very rigorous, where they actually talk to the students, parents, previous students and parents of this teacher. Will make a recommendation to me about this teacher’s status.
WREG: Germantown police says they have not received a call from you guys.
Manuel: They do. They actually have an SRO on the campus, so it was reported to the school resource officer on campus.
WREG: Are you guys going to follow up on that?
Manuel: So based on your information, and that’s the first I’ve heard that, but we will make sure they have an official report.
It depends on the evidence that they find. We’re in the middle of a current investigation so know that it it can be an extended period.
One thing that we want to reiterate to her parents and students is the fact if they have concerns about a teacher and administrator or other students, we have an anonymous reporting hotline they can report to student services they can call the superintendent they can tell their teachers at the school or administrators.
We will investigate those thoroughly and rigorously.
Our human resources team has been in touch with previous parents and students to talk about where there any concerns or allegations, so we have been talking to current and past parents and students.
These are very serious allegations that we have against teachers and students. Our first priority is student well-being. That’s why the second we had the report that it was allegations of this nature that we suspended that teacher per policy without pay to make sure they didn’t have access to students
We have very rigorous expectations for our leaders in our district. And just like with our teachers and staff, we try to grow them and develop our teachers and our leaders in our district. We have growth plans for them where we identify their strengths and their weaknesses.
When human resources concludes their investigation they will make a recommendation to the superintendent and at that time I will look at all the details in Dr. Rayburn’s case to determine whether we find the allegations founded or not.
At that time I will make a recommendation to our school board. Since he is a tenured teacher, if we are recommending to be not tenured, they would have to have a public vote in order to revoke his tenure. And of course there is an appeals process after that. This will be a very public and open process.
WREG: Regarding Kyle Cherry ...
Manuel: I will clarify that the teacher’s full documentation, she said this was a misunderstanding between friends. And she said this was not something that should’ve been reported to police, that it was her daughter that reported it.
I know that we did a full investigation of the details of that case to determine whether this had a connection to the school house or whether it had a connection and putting students at risk. And look at the consequences he receive based on that case.
WREG: Regarding Cherry's alleged alcohol dependency issues ...
Manuel: Not at school. No we did not. The first we were aware of the issue was this case and know that we had to look into those details as we were making a determination.