JCS Supports Investigation of Retired Teacher

JCS Supports Investigation of Retired Teacher
Posted on 03/11/2019
CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- UPDATE 3/12/2019 On March 5, 2019, Jefferson County Schools received a notice from the Frederick, Maryland Sheriff’s Department that a circuit court judge there had ordered a search and seizure on probable cause for child pornography.  The individual identified in the notice was Stephen Avery Marsh, a former Jefferson County Schools’ teacher who retired several years ago and subsequently substituted in our school system.   Currently, law enforcement has conveyed that the case is ongoing with further investigatory measures.    

     In keeping with our responsibility to keep children safe, we immediately took the following actions to cut off all access to children through Jefferson County Schools.  

- Within 2 hours all electronic access was cut off.  This included all access to every electronic program of both Jefferson County Schools and the West Virginia Department of Education
-      The Superintendent suspended Marsh right away to make sure he could not work in any school in any capacity
- We immediately deactivated Mr. Marsh’s badge to prevent access to any JCS building
- We contacted the West Virginia Department of Education as well as the surrounding school systems to ensure that there was no access to children outside of Jefferson County as we believe our responsibility extends to every child
- We requested an immediate, prioritized search of all Mr. Marsh’s electronic records for any inappropriate content
- Within 24 hours we issued a No Trespass order for all Jefferson County Schools’ property and notified law enforcement
- The JCS Board noticed the West Virginia Department of Education attorney of his immediate suspension and our intent to pursue termination with no consideration of resignation

Mr. Marsh is innocent until proven guilty and has a right to due process. Legally, he must receive a specific amount of notice before the board can take certain actions. The guidelines are being followed to ensure that everything is done the right way for the long-term safety of children. 

The call from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office is one that no educator or parent wants or expects to receive.  Jefferson County Schools takes every available screening and monitoring precaution to ensure the safety of our students.   One of the ways we protect children is by not jeopardizing the investigation of the police in prosecuting those who would victimize children.   Our moratorium on publicly announcing this information was aligned with the advisement from law enforcement to protect their capacity to prosecute.    With their cooperation and feedback on content, we are now able to provide this information to families to safeguard against any currently unknown impact.   

We deeply appreciate the cooperation and support of our law enforcement community and the trust of our Jefferson County families.  Without that trust, we would be unable to take the swift action necessary to properly protect students from these threats.   Currently, neither the Maryland investigation nor the WVDE search have indicated that any Jefferson County students were involved.  All evidence to date points to this occurring and being confined to home consumption in Frederick, Maryland of existing internet materials.   We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as warranted.  

We thank you for your trust and support and welcome your questions or concerns as we continue to collectively respond to the challenges of an unpredictable world.   

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