Third case of teacher in hot water
A teacher at Pear Park Elementary is on paid leave amid an investigation by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, officials said.
In the third acknowledged local police investigation since early November focused on a School District 51 teacher or substitute, District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee confirmed the staff member at Pear Park Elementary was placed on paid administrative leave this past Monday. The teacher wasn’t identified.
Neither McGee nor sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Benjamin would characterize the allegation that’s being investigated. Benjamin did say the matter was assigned to the sheriff’s complex crimes unit and the allegation involves “underage people.”
The sheriff’s complex crimes unit investigates major incidents, including crimes against children.
Benjamin declined further comment because of the early stage of the investigation.
This latest investigation involving a District 51 staff member comes after the New Year’s Eve arrest of 58-year-old Randy Majors of Grand Junction, a veteran teacher at Fruita 8/9 School and high school tennis coach who is accused of sending Facebook messages seeking topless photos from high-school-age girls.
Majors, who remains on paid administrative leave after posting bond Jan. 2, was arrested on a Fruita police warrant accusing him of three counts of sexual exploitation of a child and four counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a child.
He was placed on leave from Fruita 8/9 School on Nov. 4, three days after allegations were reported to Fruita police. Majors has taught in District 51 schools since 1994 and is paid $56,740 annually.
Aside from Majors’ case, the Sheriff’s Office last month opted not to pursue criminal charges against a 25-year-old substitute teacher at Central High School following an investigation into flirting and sexually suggestive texts he sent to a 15-year-old female student.
The substitute was fired Dec. 11 from the District 51 substitute teaching program when the matter was brought to school officials.
McGee told the The Daily Sentinel on Dec. 18 that recent allegations of staff wrongdoing were “isolated incidents” while adding, “We try to hire the best people who are a good fit for where they are going to be working.”