Public forum focuses on Morristown teacher controversy

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WVLT) -- On Monday, the Morristown Police Department confirmed that investigators were looking into reports of possible misconduct and the possibility that someone was impersonating a teacher at West High.

The superintendent, Dr. Jeff Perry, confirmed to WVLT News on Tuesday that the school system was conducting a thorough investigation of the teacher and the allegations.

Allegations of misconduct recently began circulating about the teacher on social media.

"We were made aware of the allegations made on social media over the weekend," a police department spokesperson said. "We have assigned investigators and our internet crimes officer to look into the possibility that someone could be impersonating the teacher."

Police have not confirmed whether any criminal acts were performed either by the teacher or by an impersonator.

"In any investigation, especially one of this nature, our first priority is always going to be the safety and well-being of our students," said Perry.

Perry also said that there are still questions that need to be answered before making any judgement calls.

"There are two texts that were very concerning. Those texts contained lewd comments," Dr. Perry said.

The messages dated back to 2017, however Dr. Perry said he has yet to see enough credible information to show they came from the West High teacher.

The spokesperson for the police department said, prior to the social media allegations, their records showed no one has filed a formal complaint with the department.

"Now that we are aware of possible criminal activity we are investigating," the department spokesperson said.

The school system is also investigating that potential misconduct.

A public meeting brought parents, students, teachers and the superintendent face to face for the first time since the allegations surfaced.

Betsy Stibler, a Morristown attorney, claims to represent dozens of people who've come forward with harassing messages. She spoke at the meeting Tuesday night.

"As an attorney, I've been contacted by dozens, and I do mean dozens," she said.

Dr. Perry spoke with WVLT News at the conclusion of the school board meeting.

"Our community has to understand that when you make these accusations, it could be career-ending for some of our staff. We don't want predators in our classroom. But we need to make sure everybody has access to due process."

He urges everyone to hold their judgement until after the investigation is complete.