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Union County high school teacher arrested for inappropriate contact with students online

Santos Alejandro Valladares was charged Wednesday with two counts of disseminating obscenities and three counts of disseminating obscenities to a minor.
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 9:19 PM EDT
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UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A teacher at Weddington High School has been arrested for inappropriate contact with students online, the Union County Sheriff’s Office says.

Santos Alejandro Valladares, 28, was charged Wednesday with two counts of disseminating obscenities and three counts of disseminating obscenities to a minor.

The arrest comes after an extensive investigation by the UCSO with the assistance of the Union County Public Schools administration.

The investigation first began after UCPS staff received information that Valladares was having inappropriate contact with students online.

Valladares initiated and maintained contact with numerous students via Snapchat in which he shared obscene material.

UCPS’ Staff-Student relations policy says that employees are not allowed to communicate with enrolled students through non-school controlled social media without written parental permission (except to the extent that the employee and student have an appropriate relationship which originated outside of the school setting) and written permission from the employee’s immediate supervisor.

The staff-student relations policy also prohibits employees from communicating with students through other forms of one-to-one electronic communication including but not limited to phone, texting, email, etc. without written prior approval of the employee’s supervisor and the student’s parent.

There are exceptions to this including the following:

a. the communication (1) is for an educational purpose, (2) is conducted through a school system-provided platform which archives all such communications for a period of at least three years, (this requirement does not apply to telephone or voice mail communications), or is conducted via an electronic video-conferencing platform (e.g., Teams, Zoom, Webex, Google Meet) that has been approved by the Superintendent or designee for instructional use, and (3) occurs after the employee has given prior notice to his or her supervisor or designee that such communications will occur;

b. the communication serves an educational purpose and is simultaneously copied or transmitted to the employee’s supervisor or designee and, upon request, to the parent or guardian;

c. the communication is necessary in a bona fide emergency, provided the communication is disclosed to the supervisor and parent or guardian as soon as reasonably possible; or

d. the communication derives from a relationship or association outside of the school setting and occurs with the consent of the parent or guardian, provided such communication is appropriate and does not otherwise violate this or other Board policy.

Additionally, the district’s social media policy says that employees cannot communicate with current students on their personal social media websites. There are exceptions including talking to friends and relatives or if an emergency requires such communication. If the emergency warrants communication, the employee must contact their immediate supervisor as soon as possible.

Deputies say Valladares is still employed by UCPS and would be subjected to their standard disciplinary procedures.

UCPS told WBTV that the teacher has worked with the school district since 2017 and has been on administrative leave since September 28.

“Our investigators, along with UCPS administrative staff, came together to identify and arrest a perpetrator that sought to exploit the children of our community,” Sheriff Cathey said. “We will remain vigilant in our efforts to curb any activity related to sexual exploitation. I encourage parents to speak with their children and teenagers about the dangers of social media applications and to monitor their accounts to ensure their safety”

Snapchat has strict community guidelines against sexually explicit content, bullying, harassment, violence, deception, and more.

Users can report inappropriate Accounts and stories on snap chat’s website or in the app, this can be done by selecting the story or account and hitting report.

Jared Quick’s children are homeschooled but he says he’s closely monitoring his children’s activities on social media apps for their safety.

“The nature of social media is harmful to children who aren’t fully developed and aren’t fully self-aware so it creates all kinds of problems for them plus you have the predatory side of things,” Quick said.

Quick he says he only allows them on social media with parental supervision.

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