Update: The following are statements issued by Patricia Nalley, President of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell, Superintendent of schools, and Vicki Plitt, Principal of Glen Burnie High School. Additionally, the school sent home a letter to parents this afternoon explaining the situation.
Statement of Board President Patricia R. Nalley
“As a mother, a grandmother, and someone who has spent my adult life in education, these charges make me sick to my stomach. Sadly, we have seen this all too often across our nation, but the very idea that someone could take advantage of a vulnerable child whose future they have been entrusted with cuts me to the core.
“I believe that Dr. Maxwell and our school system administration have taken prudent and quick actions from the minute they learned of the first allegation regarding Jeffrey Sears. The legal process in this case must be allowed to play out. But I want to be very clear that we have a duty first and foremost to protect our children. I believe Dr. Maxwell – and our Board – will continue to do what is appropriate so that those who choose to prey on children do not have the privilege of being any part of our school system.”
Statement of Superintendent Kevin Maxwell
“This is a difficult day for all of us, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims in this case. The activity that Mr. Sears is charged with engaging in simply cannot and will not be tolerated in our school system, and should not be tolerated anywhere.
“As we have obtained information in this case, our focus has been to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support our students and staff, and to maintain the educational environment that Glen Burnie High School’s students deserve. That will continue to be our focus.
“Because this is an ongoing legal matter, I cannot address many of the specifics of the case. When the first allegation against Mr. Sears arose, we immediately removed him from the classroom and placed him in a position in which he had absolutely no contact with children. With the filing of these charges, I will be recommending to the Board that he be suspended without pay pending termination from employment with Anne Arundel County Public Schools.
“We have worked – and will continue to work – both with police and other law enforcement agencies as this case moves forward. Just as in any other walk of life, we cannot, unfortunately, see to it that every employee acts properly in every situation. Our students, parents, and employees should be assured that when allegations come to light that employees have not done so, especially in a way that impacts the safety and well-being of our students, our actions will be quick and focused solely on the best interests of our children.”
Statement of Glen Burnie High School Principal Vickie Plitt
“First of all, I want to say how extremely proud I am to be associated with Glen Burnie High School. We have great students, great teachers and employees, great parents, and a great community that partners with us to help our students succeed.
“To be honest, we are a school that is hurting right now. It breaks my heart that our students and staff have been put in a negative light because of the apparent actions of someone we all trusted. I have faith, however, that we will band together and overcome this. Ours is a community that has a rich history of supporting its children, and that is exactly what we will do together here.”
On November 1, 2011, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education contacted the Department of Social Services regarding an allegation of a possible sexual relationship between a teacher and a student at Glen Burnie High School. The Anne Arundel County Board of Education immediately removed the teacher from his assignment, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Detectives from the Anne Arundel County Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division began investigating the allegation. During the course of the investigation, which included collecting and analyzing evidence, conducting numerous witness and victim interviews and executing search warrants of residences, a total of three female victims were identified. It was determined that all three victims had sexual relations with the teacher while they were attending Glen Burnie High School. The incidents took place both on and off of campus and during regular school hours and off hours. The victims were between the ages of 15 and 16 years old at the time of the offenses, which occurred from November of 2009 through October of 2011.
The Anne Arundel County Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, and the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office worked closely together to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter.
The suspect, Jeffrey Robert Sears Jr., 29, of 408 Luther Road in Glen Burnie, Maryland, was taken into custody at the Eastern District police station in Pasadena on December 8, 2011, at approximately 8:15 a.m. After consultation with the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office, the suspect was charged with multiple counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor, multiple counts of Fourth Degree Sex Offense, Third Degree Sex Offense, multiple counts of Perverted Practice, Sexual Solicitation of a Minor, First Degree Assault and multiple counts of Second Degree Assault. Any additional victims or witnesses are urged to contact Detective Erin Brandt of the Criminal Investigation Division at 410-222-3482.