Former Hilton Head High teacher's license suspended

Pending investigation of inappropriate behavior with student at past district

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comOctober 25, 2013 

A Hilton Head High School teacher hired in May has resigned after his teaching certificate was suspended in the wake of accusations of inappropriate relationships with female students at his previous job.

David Linderman, is accused of having inappropriate relations with one, and possibly two, female students while he was a teacher and coach at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville County, according to an order by the S.C. Board of Education.

The order suspends Linderman's teaching license but can be appealed. No criminal charges have been brought at this time.

Linderman lost his teaching certificate Oct. 11. He resigned from the Beaufort County School District on Oct. 14, according to the district's human resources chief, Alice Walton.

Linderman was at the Greenville school from 2006 until his resignation in May, which was effective June 2013, according to the order and Oby Lyles, director of communications at Greenville County Schools.

Beaufort County's district hired Linderman in May. Walton said when called for a reference check, the Greenville district did not mention its reprimand of Linderman after it determined he used "extremely poor judgment" when he entered a restroom near the school's football stadium with a female student in October 2012. Linderman's background criminal background checks also turned up nothing suspicious, Walton added.

Walton said she was notified by the state board that it would suspend Linderman's license on Oct. 14. She said she immediately asked him to come to the district office for a meeting that day, but Linderman never showed up. However, he submitted his letter of resignation to school principal Amanda O'Nan soon after they spoke.

"It was alarming," Walton said about hearing from the state. "Anytime you get information like that about teacher in one of your classroom with kids, it's automatically alarming."

Superintendent Jeffrey Moss said he does not have any concerns about inappropriate relations with students in Beaufort County and that he has not heard any allegations or comments suggesting so.

THE INVESTIGATION

Linderman was a math teacher and coach for various women's sports at Wade Hampton from 2006 to 2012. The school then made him an administrative assistant for the 2012-13 school year.

After a custodian reported seeing him enter a restroom with a female student during a teacher work day, the Greenville district in December ordered him not to text, phone or exchange instant messages with students. He also was told not to use district email or phone services to communicate with students and to make sure all conferences with students take place in "recognized meeting areas."

On May 10, Greenville schools received an anonymous tip that Linderman was having an inappropriate relationship with a different female student, according to the state order.

Linderman denied the allegations, according to the order, but submitted his letter of resignation on May 11 effective at the end of the school year.

Then on Oct. 1, the Greenville district reported to the State Department of Education that there was evidence Linderman had continued to communicate with a female student until mid-September.

The state interviewed the student on Oct. 7, and she admitted to sexual relations with Linderman, the order said. The state board then chose to suspend his certificate until a due process hearing is held or the mater is otherwise resolved.

"The SCDE has reason to believe that ... Mr. Linderman may pose a threat to the health, safety and welfare of students that may be under his instruction and that emergency action is required," the order said.

THE HIRING

Walton said Linderman submitted his application on May 7. She said the reason he gave for leaving his current position was that he wanted to get back in the classroom and be a teacher and a coach.

Moss said that all three of the references he provided were contacted, and none raised concerns about Linderman. They all said he was a good teacher, Moss said. He could not say whether the Greenville references contacted were employees in a position that would have known about Linderman's reprimand and the tip.

"I think that previous employers have a responsibility to report out actions that could be potentially harmful in another district," he added.

Lyles would not say why the reprimand was not mentioned during reference checks but provided a written district statement. It read, in part: "In late September, the district administration received evidence about previously unsupported allegations of misconduct between this individual and students attending WHHS that were investigated last school year by both the school district and the sheriff's department."


Document: David Lawrence Linderman's order of suspension

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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