One former East Burke High School teacher had his teaching license revoked and another voluntarily surrendered his teaching license after the North Carolina State Board of Education found that they were having inappropriate relationships with students.
Cameron M. Pierce, 26, who was employed as a social studies teacher at EBHS during the 2015-16 school year, had his license revoked by the NCSB on March 1 for having inappropriate sexual activity with a student, according to the NCSB Order of Revocation.
Dustin M. Beck, 26, who was employed as a math teacher at EBHS during the 2015-16 school year, sent notice on Jan. 7 to the NCSB that he was voluntarily surrendering his teaching license for having an inappropriate relationship with a student, according to the NCSB Surrender of License report.
In June 2016, the state board received notice from Burke County Public Schools that while Beck was being interviewed about a possible inappropriate relationship between another teacher and student, he told state board officials that he also had a female student at his home, the NCSB document said.
Beck told officials that he and the student "had kissed, used social media to communicate personal messages to each other and shared inappropriate pictures of each other." He also admitted to having sex with the female student, the NCSB document said.
Beck then provided BCPS with a written statement on June 8, 2016, affirming his admission of "having kissed the female student, used social media to communicate with her, sent inappropriate pictures to her and had sexual intercourse with the student," NCSB documents say.
On Nov. 30, 2016, Beck was notified by the NCSB that they intended to revoke his license within 60 days. On Feb. 2, the NCSB received a signed statement dated Jan. 7 from Beck that said he wished to voluntarily and permanently surrender his professional teaching license issued by the board, NCSB documents say.
BCPS also reported to the NCSB in June 2016 that Pierce had been having a sexual relationship with at least one EBHS female student. It was reported to BCPS that Pierce had been having the relationship with the student for several months and also had a sexual relationship with a second female student, according to the Order for Revocation.
Pierce met with the NCSB Superintendent's Ethics Advisory Committee on Aug. 26, 2016, to discuss the report. During the meeting, Pierce told the committee that after the student had finished her classes in January of 2016, he had hired her to walk his dogs. He admitted to committee members that they had communicated through text messages but said that they weren't of a personal nature. He told committee members that they had kissed "one time" but that he later told her they would have to "distance" themselves, the Order for Revocation states.
Based on the information obtained through interviews and relevant documentation, the committee voted unanimously to recommend Pierce's license be revoked, the document says.
A notice was sent to Pierce on Nov. 30, 2016, by N.C. Department of Public Instruction informing him of the revocation. The certified mail notice was returned by Pierce with his signature and dated Dec. 3, 2016. Pierce did not file a petition to contest the case within the 60-day time period, and the NCSB permanently revoked his license.
According to N.C. GS 14-27.7 (b), it is a Class G felony for a teacher, school administrator, student teacher, school safety officer, or coach, at any age, to engage in sex or a sexual act with a victim who is a student at any time during or after the time they are present together in the same school but before the victim ceases to be a student, regardless of consent.
Officials at the Burke County Clerk of Courts office said that an investigation was held but no charges or search warrants for Beck or Pierce ever were filed.
Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant said Monday that he was contacted by BCPS officials about the allegations and conducted an investigation. The Incident Report, dated June 7, 2016, lists two 18-year-old female victims, but says that the case was closed when the victims refused to cooperate.
"We shared the information from our findings with the District Attorney's Office," Whisenant said.
District Attorney David Learner said Monday that no charges were filed due to the victims not wanting to cooperate with the investigation.
"The victims refused to cooperate with any prosecution or with investigators in the case," Learner said."
Learner said he had yet to review the NCSB documents regarding the revocation of Beck's and Pierce's professional teaching licenses, but said he would read the results and decide if there was any action needed to be taken by his office.
"I don't know that we had any knowledge of those statements," Learner said. "I was told of those (Monday). I will be glad to look at the file and see where those statements might or might not lead.
When asked if criminal charges could be filed after looking into the NCSB revocation documents, Learner said he "would look into it."
"We prosecute cases when we have the proof," Learner said. "When there's evidence and there's a crime that involves a victim, per se, it normally requires the cooperation of the victim. Most of the time, it does.
"In a case of this nature, you need the victims to cooperate in order to have anything viable in court."
A statement released by BCPS on Monday said that BCPS suspended Beck and Pierce with pay on June 8, 2016, upon the school system opening an investigation.
The statement said that Pierce resigned his position on June 9, 2016, and Beck resigned his position on June 10, 2016.
"Burke County Public Schools fully cooperated with law enforcement and the NC State Board of Education regarding the investigation," the statement said. "By law, Burke County Public Schools cannot comment further regarding personnel matters, however, anytime the school district receives a complaint of possible misconduct involving a student, the matter is promptly investigated and referred to state or local officials as appropriate.
"The State Board of Education revoked Mr. Pierce’s teaching license and accepted the surrender of Mr. Beck’s teaching license. Burke County Public Schools takes the safety of all students very seriously and does everything in its power to ensure student safety."
Beck, who was employed by BCPS from Aug. 17, 2015, until his resignation on June 10, was also an assistant football coach for EBHS. As of his resignation, his salary was $39,330, plus a $931.70 local supplement, along with a coaching supplement of $2,460, according to BCPS.
Pierce, who was employed by BCPS from Aug. 19, 2013, until his resignation on June 9, 2016, also was an assistant football coach at the school. His salary was $36,000 with an additional $847 local supplement as of his resignation. He also made $2,460 as a coaching supplement.