A William Lenoir Middle School teacher has been charged with taking indecent liberties with a child. William Lenoir Middle is located in Caldwell county in North Carolina.
The Lenoir police department announced that 29 year-old Justin Biggs has been charged with three felony counts of indecent liberties with a child. Biggs was a math teacher and softball coach at the school. School officials confirmed Biggs has resigned.
The investigation into Biggs was prompted by a report that there had been a “physical assault by a teacher” on November 9th of this year. Court documents state that Biggs is accused of “committing a lewd act on a child.”
According to Lenoir Police, the incidents happened on school property and involved William Lenoir Middle School students.
William Lenoir Middle Wasn’t First Set of Claims
According to WBB Charlotte, this is not the first time Biggs has been accused of illegal activity regarding children. WBB Charlotte reports that in September of 2015, seven students accused Biggs of ‘inappropriate contact’ with them.
At the time, Biggs was teaching at Granite Falls Middle School, which is also located in Caldwell county. An investigation was launched, but no charges were brought by the District Attorney at that time.
Breaking Lenoir- Justin Biggs was a middle school teacher in Lenoir. Also taught in Granite Falls. pic.twitter.com/VuUfPKehD3
— Dave Faherty (@FahertyWSOC9) December 5, 2017
After those claims were made school officials moved Biggs from Granite Falls to another school, presumably William Lenoir Middle School. Allegedly there were “conditions” placed on this move but school officials refused to say what those conditions were, citing disclosure policies on personnel information.
The WBB Charlotte report includes a statement from Caldwell County Public Schools on the 2015 claims:
“After an extensive school/law enforcement investigation in 2015, reports of inappropriate behavior were unsubstantiated or validated as sexual or criminal in nature. Behavior was deemed to be immature and childish, but not of a criminal nature. There was never any advisement from law enforcement that he should be terminated or was a danger to students. An administrative decision was made to reassign to a different school, with a vacancy in the teacher’s certification area with specific conditions of employment. We continue to work closely with law enforcement officials.”
Biggs is being held under a $150,000 secure bond at the Caldwell County Detention Center. His next court date will be held in 2018 on January 8th.
Police are asking that anyone who might have information pertaining to this case should contact Crime Stoppers at 828-758-8300 or Lenoir Police Department at 828-757-2100.
American Lens has been reporting on the license revocation process in the state since January. Biggs is the 52nd teacher arrest tracked by American Lens since the start of 2017.
Many teacher we’ve investigated and written about have been allowed to resign once charges have been issued against them.
According to North Carolina Senate Bill 599, which has been signed into law, the district has options with how to deal with Biggs’ resignation:
SECTION 4.(d) G.S. 115C‑325(o)(2) reads as rewritten:
“(2) A teacher, career or probationary, who is not recommended for dismissal should not resign without the consent of the superintendent unless he or she has given at least 30 days’ notice. If a teacher who is not recommended for dismissal does resign without giving at least 30 days’ notice, the board may request that the State Board of Education revoke the teacher’s license for the remainder of that school year. A copy of the request shall be placed in the teacher’s personnel file. If a teacher’s criminal history is relevant to the teacher’s resignation, regardless of whether the teacher has given at least 30 days’ notice, the board shall report to the State Board of Education the reason for an employee’s resignation.”
Senate Bill 599 also grants more flexibility to superintendents if an employee has not resigned but suspension is imminent. The superintendents now have the option to suspend that person without pay as long as the superintendent has met with the employee and give him/her “written notice of the charges against him, an explanation of the basis for the charges, and an opportunity to respond.”
Senate Bill 599 stipulates that if the teacher in question is “incarcerated or is in the custody of a local, State, private, or federal correctional facility,” then the superintendent is not required to perform such a meeting before suspending that teacher without pay. Instead, the superintendent can offer written notice of the charges and allow an opportunity for the teacher to respond in writing.
Once the teacher is notified of suspension, the superintendent then has 5 days to either dismiss, demote, or elect for disciplinary suspension without pay.