The S.C. Department of Education suspended the certificate of a former Battery Creek High School teacher last month after learning the teacher’s Georgia certificate had been suspended because he allegedly asked a student for nude photos, according to officials.
Ryan Jackson’s teaching certificate was under review by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission when he was hired as a special education teacher at Battery Creek High School in August 2018, according to documents from the commission.
The Beaufort County School District said it did not find any “red flags” during Jackson’s hiring process, but a quick Google search by district staff would have produced at least two articles about the allegations made against him in November 2017.
Jackson’s hiring raises questions about the district’s system for checking the backgrounds of potential hires and the level to which the district investigates employees before allowing them to work with students.
In March 2018, after concluding that Jackson “exchanged inappropriate communications with a 17-year-old female via Facebook Messenger and video calls,” the commission decided to revoke Jackson’s teaching certificate. Jackson appealed that decision and a settlement agreement to suspend his license was made about a week after he was hired by the Beaufort County School District in August 2018.
The district had no knowledge of the allegations made against Jackson nor the status of his Georgia teaching certificate when he was hired, according to district spokesperson Jim Foster.
Jackson had clean references, clean interviews, a valid South Carolina teacher’s license and no entries in the national criminal background databases, according to Foster.
Yet even if the district had been aware of the allegations before hiring Jackson, “the mere existence of an investigation doesn’t mean a person can’t be hired,” Foster said
The school district does not check news coverage nor the social media accounts of prospective hires, but after this incident, it is going to “look into it,” Foster said Tuesday.
In mid-September 2018, the S.C. Department of Education learned about Jackson’s Georgia suspension and the school district terminated him, according to a disciplinary action report filed by department of education.
The state Department of Education suspended his South Carolina teaching certificate on Jan. 8 for six months due to his failure to “disclose the Georgia investigation and suspension,” the report states.
Jackson allegedly made his advances via Facebook
Jackson previously worked as a teacher at Wilkinson County High School in McIntyre, Ga., where he also served as the school’s assistant boys basketball coach, according to The Macon Telegraph.
On Nov. 17, 2017, Jackson resigned from his position after a student’s grandparent filed a complaint against him, which alleged there “may be some inappropriate messaging by way of text between Coach Jackson and a student,” The Telegraph reported.
The 17-year-old female student later told Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office investigators that Jackson asked her over Facebook Messenger for nude photos while they were at school and asked her to let him watch her “play with herself” on a video chat, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission’s case summary.
The student also told investigators that Jackson repeatedly asked her when they were going to have sex, the case summary said.
Jackson admitted to investigators that he communicated with the student via Facebook Messenger and that he later told her to delete their messages.
Although he denied asking the student for nude photos and asking her to let him watch her masturbate, a polygraph test “revealed that he was being deceptive,” the summary stated.
Investigators were unable to recover the deleted messages, so Jackson was never prosecuted due to lack of evidence, according to the case summary.