Va. law aimed at telling schools about employee arrests to go into effect in July

A new law recently signed by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin will require law enforcement officials to notify school systems whenever employees are arrested for certain offenses.

The Virginia General Assembly passed the legislation, which was signed by Youngkin late last month. State Sen. Scott Surovell introduced the bill, after a Fairfax County middle school guidance counselor continued working despite an arrest related to child sex crimes.

The law is scheduled to go into effect July 1, and requires state law enforcement agencies to notify school systems within 48 hours of an arrest for a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor. Law enforcement will be tasked with communicating with a division safety official, who will be selected by each county’s superintendent.

Updated contact information for the selected safety official, including a mailing address, working daytime phone number, functional email address and fax number will be required to be maintained by the state.

“We really appreciate the support of our elected officials in Richmond in supporting the health and safety of our students and staff and schools,” Fairfax County Superintendent Michelle Reid said. “We really want to make sure that our students are safe and healthy.”

The new law comes after Glasgow Middle School guidance counselor Darren Thornton remained on the job for 20 months after his arrest. Police in Chesterfield County arrested him in November 2020 on a charge of soliciting prostitution of a minor. However, police attempts to notify the school system of his arrest were sent to faulty email addresses.

Thornton was required to register as a sex offender with Virginia State Police but lied about his employment status, saying he was self-employed.

It was only after Thornton was arrested in June 2022 during a separate sting operation that the Chesterfield department’s special victims unit supervisor called the school system to report the arrest. Thornton was placed on administrative leave and then fired.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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