FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. - Fairfax County School officials released a letter to staff Thursday notifying them that a counselor at a middle school in the county had previously been convicted of solicitation of prostitution from a minor.
The letter, sent by Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michelle C. Reid, says that the counselor, who worked at Glasgow Middle School Lincolnia, Virginia, was employed by the school despite being convicted of a sex crime involving a minor. The letter claims that the employee has since been fired and that the superintendent is petitioning FCPS to revoke the counselor's license.
According to Dr. Reid, the incident which the counselor was convicted for happened outside of Fairfax County.
In a statement to FOX 5 FCPS officials identified the counselor as Darren Thornton. They say he was already an FCPS employee when we was arrested and convicted for soliciting prostitution from a minor.
FOX 5 uncovered that Thornton was arrested on November 19, 2020 for solicitation of prostitution from a minor in Chesterfield County, Virginia, located near the Richmond area.
Police department records indicate that the Fairfax County School Superintendent at the time, Scott Brabrand, was notified about the arrest one day after it happened.
Most recently, Thornton was again charged with solicitation of prostitution as part of an online chatting operation in Chesterfield County. The charges were brought on Thornton on June 9, 2022. Police officials say they contacted FCPS about the charged the following day. Current FCPS Superintendent Dr. Michelle C. Reid says she was informed about Thornton's past on July 28.
A parent group called "Do Better FCPS" is requesting the school board voluntarily release all internal information about this matter under the freedom of information act, free of charge.
In response to the discovery, FCPS officials say they double-checked background checks on all employees to ensure no further issues as the school year begins on Monday, August, 22.
You can read the full letter the superintendent below:
Dear FCPS Staff,
I am writing to make you aware of the action that I am taking as a result of being notified of a serious situation at Glasgow Middle School regarding a counselor who continued to be employed despite being convicted – outside of Fairfax County – of ‘solicitation of prostitution from a minor’. I want to assure you that as soon as the School Board and I knew of the situation, we took immediate steps to dismiss the employee. I can confirm that the employee has been terminated and FCPS is petitioning the state to revoke his license.
There is no higher priority than the safety of our students and, on behalf of the School Board and myself, I want to make this very clear: this entire situation is unacceptable from any perspective. We are deeply concerned about how this happened in one of our schools.
The School Board acted swiftly as soon as they were aware of the situation. The Board has tasked me as the Division Superintendent to provide an accountability report with a timely corrective action plan so that this never again occurs within FCPS.
In operationalizing this expectation, I have initiated a comprehensive, independent investigation by outside counsel into the circumstances surrounding this situation. This is being carried out by an independent third party who has complete visibility into all internal processes. While I am not able to speak to the specifics of the investigation at this time, I can confirm that it covers both internal and external processes. Following my receipt of the investigative report, I will share my corrective action steps with the School Board and wider community to ensure full accountability. Please be assured that I will take whatever further corrective actions are required to prevent this from happening again.
All FCPS employees are required by law to report any suspicion of child abuse and neglect. Each year, you must complete the required training in MyPDE to ensure that you are aware of these requirements. If you have any questions please reach out to your principal or program manager.
I want to assure you that we are doing everything possible so this cannot happen again. I am committed to keeping you updated on this issue.