Prince William school officials weigh strategies to curb sexual misconduct

After an unprecedented string of sexual misconduct cases in Prince William County schools, officials are weighing strategies to curb future violations.

In the past month, four of the county’s teachers have been arrested on accusations of sexual misconduct involving students.

“It’s certainly an anomaly,” said Ken Blackstone, a school system spokesman. “We’ve had years go by without a single case.”

Even before the recent cases were reported, the school district was considering strengthening its sexual misconduct policies, prompted by a recommendation from the Virginia Department of Education that was distributed to all of the state’s school systems. The recent cases put the issue “into a much sharper focus,” Blackstone said.

Last week, David Blount, 62, a teacher at Woodbridge Middle School, was accused of inappropriately touching a 13-year-old female student.

A week before that, Lawrence Lucchetti, 33, a Beville Middle School teacher, was charged with inappropriately touching a 12-year-old girl.

In April, Eric Lewis, 27, a Gar-Field High School substitute teacher and track coach, was charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old female student.

Also in April, Tina Amato, 27, a Gar-Field High School English teacher, was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old male student.

The district’s first move will probably be to remind its 10,000 employees of existing policies and practices. In meetings with principals, Prince William administrators plan to discuss how that information might be conveyed — in PowerPoint presentations, handouts or other forms.

“Since Kevin Ricks was operating right in our back yard, you can understand that we are sensitive to the sexual misconduct issues,” Don Richardson, vice chairman of the county school board, said in an interview last month. “But those intent on misconduct will find a way regardless of what we do.”

Ricks molested several students while teaching in Manassas and other school systems in the United States and abroad.

Prince William officials say they have long enforced strict policies to protect students from misconduct. In 2007, the district was one of the first in the Washington region to use a computerized security system to check for sex offenders at campus entry points.

“It’s certainly something you never expect to happen,” Blackstone said. “We rely on each of our employees to make a conscious choice to follow our policies and procedures.”

Kevin Sieff has been The Post’s bureau chief in Nairobi since 2014. He served previously as the bureau chief in Kabul and had covered the U.S. -Mexico border.

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