Do Upstate School Policies Prevent Inappropriate Behavior?

An Upstate school teacher fired after the district says he admitted to sending sexually-oriented text messages and nude pictures to current and former students.

Superintendent Darryl Owings told us they learned of the allegations against math teacher John Sewell on Tuesday and fired him that day.

The Spartanburg District 6 superintendent says all teachers undergo training on inappropriate conduct with students, including Sewell.

“We do so much in this district with training with from darkness to light with our enhanced training that we did at the beginning of the school year where every employee has the training to go through where it specifically mentions this conduct right here,” said Owings.

But Upstate parents are now wondering if that training is enough. “Everybody knows what’s appropriate and not appropriate to send to a student.”

Jared orange says it’s hard to keep up with changing technology and how it’s affecting our schools. He believes keeping an eye on his son may be the only way to curb the bad behavior and protect his son in the future.

“When it comes to limiting social media and media communications, I mean, the grey area is going to be there,” said Sewell.

We reached out to several upstate school officials to find out what tools the districts are using to monitor student-teacher interaction. Spartanburg District 6 and Anderson District 1 told us their teachers are encouraged to use a third party website called “Remind”. The site says it connects parents, students and teachers “instantly”. It discourages all teachers from using their phones to reach students.

But Orange says he doesn’t think it will help. “It’s kind of mute. Let’s face it, in this day and age if two people want to communicate outside their parameter they’re given, they’ll do it.”

He’s glad the website is there so students have a safe place to talk to their schools. But he thinks more can be done by parents and schools to keep adult and child relationships professional.

“It’s very important to have a really personable relationship between student and teacher,” Orange said.

The district is now reaching out to any other students who may have been a victim. No criminal charges have been filed against John Sewell. The sheriff’s office says the investigation is still in the early stages.

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