Lufkin charter school puts counselor on leave after allegation of inappropriate comment to child

School Director Bruce Marchand
School Director Bruce Marchand

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Administrators at Pineywoods Community Academy school in Lufkin have placed a counselor on paid suspension following an allegation that he made an inappropriate remark to a young student.

According to school Director Bruce Marchand, he learned of the allegation from a parent.

In a letter Marchand sent home with students for parents on Tuesday, Marchand said the employee, John Carter, is being investigated by the school and police.

"That means that we talk with teachers, we talk with other staff members and we listen very carefully if there's any students that would have anything to disclose; and certainly we'll listen to parents," Marchand said.

Lufkin police spokesman JB Smith confirmed detectives have begun investigating and have interviewed an employee at Pineywoods Academy.

Smith said police were contacted at 7 p.m. Monday and brought the employee in Tuesday for the interview.

Smith said the allegation concerns an inappropriate remark made to a student under the age of 10. Smith described the comment as "suggestive, not explicit."

"He has been cooperating with officers," Smith said. "He gave access to the residence and his office and computers and such."

Smith said a conversation between the child and the employee was recorded and investigators are working to validate the recording.

"Their initial findings indicate that the recording is of a conversation between the student and employee," Smith said.

In Marchand's letter, he stated Carter will be suspended with pay, pending completion of the investigation.

"As parents you need to know as much as I can share within the confines of the law," Marchand stated in the letter. "This information was not shared with students as I feel that as parents you have the right and responsibility to determine how sensitive information is disclosed to your child.

"There is nothing more important to me than the safety and well-being of every child at PCA, and as a staff we will continue to work every day to earn your trust and confidence."

While leaving the police station Tuesday morning, Carter would not comment on the allegation, saying he was instructed to follow detectives in his car.

"I'm not talking to you about this right now," Carter said. "I have to follow them."

Smith said investigators will collect all the evidence and then determine whether a criminal act occurred. If they feel one has, they will then take it to the district attorney's office to determine whether charges will be pursued.

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