Northumberland Sheriff responds to parents’ concerns

Posted at 9:21 PM, Feb 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-01 06:42:26-05

NORTHUMBERLAND, Va. (WTVR) - Twice within the past few months the Northumberland County school district has had two employees arrested on sex crime allegations against students.

It's been a difficult few months for the Northumberland school community.

"Everybody is in the state of shock, how did it happen under my nose, under our nose?," said Northumberland Sheriff Chuck Wilkins.

The most recent allegation came to light last Thursday when Derrick Jones, school resource officer and employee of the Sheriff's Department, was arrested Thursday. He was charged with having sex with a fifteen-year-old student.

"Everybody is hurt by this situation because hey I trusted them, we trusted them," said Wilkins.

Shock and frustration over the new arrest was voiced loudly at the school board meeting this week.

"The office that this person occupies is here, how did this fall through the cracks?," said Sherry Green-Henry, a parent who attended the meeting.

Several parents continued to contact CBS 6 after the meeting, worried the incidents at the school would be swept under the rug. But Wednesday the Sheriff issued a reassurance that was not the case. He claimed that in both cases of the allegations employees were removed, quickly charged and arrested, all within hours.

"If a child is in immediate danger you stop everything and you get the help of the closest resource you can," said Wilkins.

According to the Sheriff, the district and his department will now start a process of evaluation, examining how reporting systems in schools can work better and windows of opportunity for misconduct can be closed. Wilkins claims both of the charged employees were well liked and respected for their work so the focus moving forward must be fixing the warning system.

"Everybody feels responsible for how do we stop this. It's priority number one from now on," said Wilkins.