Miscommunication may have delayed firing of Fairfax County school counselor convicted in sex crime with minor

A miscommunication may have led to the delayed firing of a sex offender who worked for Fairfax County Public Schools.

Fairfax County School officials released a letter to staff Thursday notifying them that a counselor at Glasgow Middle School had previously been convicted of solicitation of prostitution from a minor.

In a statement to FOX 5, FCPS officials identified the counselor as Darren Thornton. They say he was already an FCPS employee when he was arrested and convicted for soliciting prostitution from a minor.

READ MORE: Fairfax County school employed counselor convicted in sex crime with minor, superintendent says

The letter from FCPS claims that the employee has since been fired and that the superintendent is petitioning FCPS to revoke the counselor's license.

Thornton was arrested on November 19, 2020 for solicitation of prostitution from a minor in Chesterfield County, Virginia, located near the Richmond area.

The Chesterfield Police Chief says he tried to alert FCPS about the arrest of Thornton in 2020. He says the police department was either given a wrong or outdated email which led to the delay in his firing. 

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.

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.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin released this statement on the incident:

"This is an astonishing revelation...For there to be a school counselor, middle school counselor, who was arrested for sex solicitation of a minor back in November 2020. And for that issue only now to be resolved, if those facts are correct, this is wholly unacceptable...This is the primary challenge we have right now is how do we keep our students safe in schools...Fairfax County Schools again, need to get out in front of this. And let me tell you, this is why we push so hard to get passed in this last budget for incremental funding, substantial incremental funding to put school resource officers back in schools all over the Commonwealth. This is how we're going to keep our kids safe. But the superintendents must do their job. I have just asked our State Superintendent of Schools Jillian Balow, to make sure that the Department of Education is reiterating the hiring policies, the background check policies, that are critical to make sure that we never ever have a middle school counselor that has been arrested for soliciting sex from a minor in our school system. It must stop and we're going to do our part at the State Department of Education."

The Virginia Department of Corrections is also looking into how Thornton was hired in the first place.