William Cleveland, of Augusta, was officially named by Columbia County Schools Superintendent Tommy Price at a Tuesday news conference as the substitute teacher whom police are investigating on multiple allegations of child molestation at two elementary schools.
On Tuesday, Price also accused two school administrators of not following board policy by not immediately reporting the alleged molestations.
"From our internal investigation, it appears that two school administrators at different schools failed to follow established board procedure when allegations of inappropriate physical contact were reported by students," Price wrote in a released statement.
"At both sites, the allegations were made against a substitute teacher, William Cleveland."
Price is recovering from recent knee surgery and did not attend a Tuesday school board meeting. His written statement was read to members of the media by Associate Schools Superintendent Charles Nagle.
Cleveland has been removed from the school system's substitute teacher list, and allegations against him have been reported to the state Professional Standards Commission, which polices teachers, according to Price's statement.
Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris confirmed Tuesday that Cleveland has taught at all of Columbia County's elementary schools since 2003, but he said only six students have been found to make allegations against Cleveland.
The girls, whom police have been interviewing, are between the ages of 9 and 11.
At least three incidents are alleged to have occurred in early May - one at Riverside Elementary and two at Brookwood Elementary.
Three others are alleged to have occurred on the last two days of school, May 19 and 20, at Riverside Elementary.
Police said Friday that a third-grade teacher at Brookwood Elementary sent a letter, dated May 19, to a school administrator stating that two students in her class claimed they were touched inappropriately by Cleveland earlier in the month.
An administrator held the letter until a school system human resources official sent a request to all elementary schools in June asking about allegations of molestation against Cleveland, Morris said.
Riverside Elementary Principal Jeanie Hill called police on June 14 to report the molestation allegations, after she was told to conduct her own investigation, including interviewing Cleveland, by an official in human resources, Hill said this past week.
"The appropriate personnel action against the administrators involved is currently under consideration, and a recommendation will be made to the board of education at its next meeting" scheduled for July 12, Price wrote.
Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said at Tuesday's meeting that she and the other board members agreed to hold a special called meeting prior to the next regular meeting to decide on the fate of the administrators if Price is early with his recommendation.
Authorities say Cleveland is on vacation in Europe.
"We have reason to believe he is aware," Morris said when asked if Cleveland knows about the allegations against him.
The sheriff's office says it is hopeful Cleveland will return from vacation next week, giving police the opportunity to question him.
Excerpt from A statement written by Superintendent Tommy Price
"Board procedure adopted March 7, 2005, requires when there is uncertainty regarding the validity of an allegation of abuse, system employees should understand that their primary obligation is to report the suspicion or allegation, not to investigate or decide the suspicion or allegation. The report should be made to an appropriate child welfare agency or to an appropriate police authority."
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