Covington family claims school employee sent their 15-year-old son sexual photos

District officials say employee has been placed on administrative leave

By Lindsey Kennett - Reporter

COVINGTON, Va. - A Covington family claims a public school employee sent a sexual message to their child.

According to school district officials, that person has been placed on administrative leave, and the district has launched an investigation.

Police say they’re also looking into it, but they can’t release any information at this time.

10 News spoke with the 15-year-old student and his parents, who say the issue is just getting swept under the rug. They're demanding that person get fired and face charges.

"This is my child and they're not taking it seriously," said Julie Kelley, the student's mom.  

She is outraged, frustrated and scared.

In tears, Kelley said she couldn’t believe it when she got a call from the Covington school district, telling her an employee sent an inappropriate picture to her 15-year-old son, Austin.

"At that point, I went into complete panic mode," said Kelley. "This teacher has caused my child to be permanently scarred."

Austin is in 10th grade at Covington High School. He came out as gay to his parents two years ago. 

Since then, he’s used social media to meet friends who understand what he’s going through.

On March 6, while students were on spring break, Austin says he got a message from that employee on the dating app Grindr.

"I got a text saying, 'Is this Austin Kelley?' ... Then I received lewd photos," Austin told 10 News. 

A week later, Austin told school officials.

"It's just a bottle of emotions ... It hurts," said Austin. 

No charges have been filed, which is why WSLS is choosing not to identify that employee or their position.

The school district released a statement that reads, in part:

“Evidence gathered to date does not indicate the communication was sent by using a Covington city public schools electronic technology account or server. Instead, it appears the communication was sent during non-school hours and through a private electronic account… The employee remains on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation."

The Kelleys say that's not enough.

Austin’s dad worries this might not be the first time.

"I don't know how many other students are scared to come forth and don't know what to do," said Austin's dad. 

Now, Austin and his parents are speaking out.

"This man should be in jail. He should have to register as a sex offender... Not be allowed to work around children at all," said Kelley. "Whether it be a picture, a touch, an inappropriate comment, it is all traumatizing. Especially to a child. ... I need to be assured as a parent that this will not happen again. And I have not gotten that from anyone in any shape or form." 

Police can’t say much about the investigation at this time but say they are looking into all aspects of the investigation before they may choose to file any charges.

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