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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday pledged more accountability and state resources amid the “astonishing revelation” that a school district had employed a convicted sex offender for months before his firing.
“This is an astonishing revelation … for there to be a school counselor, middle school counselor, who was arrested for sex solicitation of a minor back in November 2020,” Youngkin said.
Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid informed parents last Wednesday that Darren Thornton, a counselor at Glasgow Middle School in Lincolnia, Virginia, had previously been convicted of “solicitation of prostitution from a minor.”
Reid said the district took “immediate steps” to fire Thornton upon learning of the situation, and FCPS is petitioning the state to revoke his license.
FAIRFAX COUNTY PARENTS DEMAND ‘SIGNIFICANT CHANGES’ TO ENSURE CHILDREN’S SAFETY AFTER COUNSELOR FIRING
Thornton was convicted of solicitation of prostitution from a minor on March 11. He was initially arrested on Nov. 19, 2020. Court records show that he pleaded not guilty to the crime on Aug. 30, 2021, but was convicted on March 11. Thornton was arrested a separate time on June 9 and charged with solicitation of prostitution.
“[F]or that issue only now to be resolved, if those facts are correct, this is wholly unacceptable,” Youngkin said. “Fairfax County Schools again, need to get out in front of this.”
The Republican governor said he had asked Virginia’s Superintendent of Schools Jillian Balow to make sure the Department of Education is reviewing its hiring policies to ensure a convicted sex offender is never employed by a school district again.
“It must stop, and we’re going to do our part at the State Department of Education,” Youngkin said.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said he, like his fellow Virginians, was “absolutely appalled to learn that a convicted sex offender was able to work with youth as a Middle School Counselor in Fairfax County.”
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“Schools have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their students, and this means being diligent about who works with our youth,” Miyares said. “The various government agencies involved must get to the bottom of what happened with the communications breakdown and mistakes that created this dangerous situation. I also pledge that my office and our resources are available for assistance.”
Fox News’ Adam Sabes and Lillian LeCroy contributed to this report.