Eight Fairfax County school employes will be fired or allowed to resign as a result of investigations prompted by the arrest of a former school psychologist on child sex abuse charges, School Superintendent Robert R. Spillane said yesterday.
In one case, in which a female teacher was accused of having sexual relations with a male student, Spillane said he would ask the School Board to dismiss the teacher. School officials would not divulge the names of the employes involved in that or any of the other cases, citing the state privacy law.
The actions are the first results of the school system's new policy of more aggressive investigations of complaints against its employes. Spillane's office has taken over investigations of sensitive cases from personnel officials.
Spillane, who took office July 1, announced the policy after the August arrest of former school psychologist Arthur S. Pomerantz, 46, on child sex abuse charges. Pomerantz, a school employe since 1965, was allowed to resign last year while under investigation. The schools have been criticized for not forcing him out sooner, and for agreeing not to mention the investigation in his personnel file.
In an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, Spillane said all eight cases are less serious than the accusations against Pomerantz. Some, according to school officials, do not involve sexual misconduct.
Spillane said his announcement of a more aggressive policy Sept. 9 "opened a floodgate of other issues," bringing forth numerous tips, some useful and some unfounded. Three, he said, were from Fairfax County police.
"I don't think the cases are increasing," Spillane said. "I suspect that we're finding out more about them and more people are coming out with them."
Spillane said some of the alleged offenders will be allowed to resign, but he will ask the School Board to fire the teacher accused of sexual involvement with a student because "I don't want that person . . . going to some other place in the country."
The school employes who are allowed to resign will have notations in their files that they left while under investigation, he said. But many school systems -- including New York and Boston -- do only a cursory check of dates of employment, he said, and firing someone is the only way to make sure a red flag is raised.
Spillane said two county personnel officials obtained written testimony about the teacher accused of dating a student. "When the person was confronted with it, it was an easy situation," he said.
The teacher probably cannot be arrested because the student was of consenting age, Spillane said. The charge against her before the School Board will be professional misconduct.
Spillane said he will ask the Virginia General Assembly for legislation allowing Fairfax County to use quasi-judicial hearing officers to consider firings of school employes. All such firings must now go before the School Board. Spillane said that sometimes it is easier to let an employe resign quietly than to bring a time-consuming firing case before the busy School Board.
Pomerantz had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court yesterday, but it was postponed until Oct. 23, according to court officials.
After a preliminary hearing on a sodomy charge against Pomerantz's roommate, Edward C. Buss, 42, Judge Michael J. Valentine ruled that there was enough evidence for the Buss case to go to a Circuit Court grand jury. A grand jury hearing will be held Nov. 18, according to Vincent Picciano, the director of juvenile court services.
Yesterday's preliminary hearing and the grand jury session will be closed to the public because juveniles are involved.