A Prince William County high school teacher who had allegedly been involved in a love affair with a 16-year-old student was arrested yesterday on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Raymond Anthony Florence, 24, of Woodbridge, a part-time social studies teacher at Stonewall Jackson High School since September, was released on $500 unsecured bond soon after turning himself in to county police.
A magistrate scheduled a July 12 hearing in Juvenile/Domestic Relations Court.
According to the arrest warrant, Florence is accused of providing transportation for the student to stay out overnight last month in his company when he knew her mother opposed it.
Maj. John Hutchens, head of the Prince William Police Department's criminal investigation division, said police suspect the student had been willingly involved with Florence.
Law enforcement sources who asked not to be identified said Florence and the student had begun a love affair several months ago after she had sought advice on a family problem.
Florence, who lives with his parents, refused to comment yesterday.
Police said they were notified after the girl's mother became concerned that Florence was too old to be involved with her daughter. The girl's mother had asked Florence to discontinue the relationship, but he continued to call her at home and to see her, police said.
School officials said the school system began an investigation into the allegations in mid-May.
The schools' responsibility is "to investigate the situation in terms of whether the teacher's behavior was appropriate," said Prince William School Superintendent Edward L. Kelly. "The School Board may take action regardless of what happens in court."
Sources close to the school investigation said Florence offered his resignation, which the School Board refused to accept Wednesday night.
That leaves the board the option of firing Florence later. A personnel action against Florence will be considered "before very long," the sources said.
Florence was reassigned two weeks ago from his teaching post to an administrative position pending the outcome of the investigation, according to the sources. "Whenever someone is accused of something we deem very, very serious, we remove them from the classroom and reassign them to a non-teaching position," Kelly said.
Bryant Webb, a lawyer who represents Florence, said he suggested that his client resign because his arrest would have rendered him ineffectual in the classroom. Webb said his client will plead not guilty. "Whether or not an allegation like this is true, it is hard to do your job," Webb said.
Staff writer Alice Digilio contributed to this report.