Asheville parents react to teacher’s arrest www.privateofficer.com
ASHEVILLE NC Jan 24 2013 — Asheville City Schools officials on Monday attempted to address the questions and concerns of parents after a teacher at Vance Elementary was arrested on charges that he twice molested a child.
Charlie Glazener, spokesman for Asheville City Schools, said the alleged victim was not one of the second-grade teacher’s students. Glazener also reiterated the incidents did not happen on school property. But school officials wanted to have a meeting with the parents of Aaron Paul Cook’s students.
“The parents have concerns and questions, and rightfully they should,” Glazener said. “They want to know as much as they can about what’s going on. The question we’re getting from parents is, ‘How do we talk to our children? What should we and should we not say to (our) children … ?’”
Cook, 29, of Spring Circle, was hired in August 2011 and recruited from Michigan.
Cynthia Grady, human resources officer and legal counsel for city schools, said a criminal background check showed no offenses in Michigan or North Carolina. Cook, who is in jail on a $50,000 secured bond, has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, and a representative from the department attended the meeting at Vance Elementary and spoke to parents. The Citizen-Times was not allowed inside the meeting.
Ed Dockery has six children in the city school system. His 7-year-old son attends Vance Elementary and was one of Cook’s students. He said the news about Cook’s arrest saddened him.
“We sort of started getting to know what kind of person he was, and he seemed like a really nice guy,” Dockery said. “And when I came out to pick up the kids in the afternoon, he’d be doing the bus lines out here. He was supernice. I really liked him.”
Cook has been banned from being on Asheville City Schools property for the duration of the investigation, school officials said. A magistrate ordered him not to have contact with the alleged victim.
School officials learned of the charges against Cook late Thursday night, and Superintendent Allen Johnson made the decision to suspend him that night. The incidents allegedly occurred last week, according to authorities.
Cook is charged with committing and attempting “to commit a lewd and lascivious” on a person under age 16 on Jan. 14, according to an arrest warrant. Another warrant alleges Cook did “take and attempt to take immoral, improper and indecent liberties” with a person under age 16 on Jan. 15 for the “purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.”
The teacher who will replace Cook starting today attended the meeting. Dockery said he doesn’t expect his son to struggle with the transition.
“I think they’ve got a pretty good support team here to get things worked out with the new teacher transition,” he said. “I just think that they’re just going to pick up and take off with this new teacher.”