A former Bondurant Middle School teacher at the center of an allegation of child abuse has been placed on leave at a university in Florida where he was teaching.
Todd Smith was indicted last week by a grand jury on two charges of first-degree sexual abuse of minors under the age of 16, a Class D felony. According to the indictment, the incidents allegedly occurred in August 2018 and March of this year.
Franklin County Schools Superintendent Mark Kopp and current Bondurant Middle School Principal Whitney Allison were also indicted in connection with their handling of the case. Kopp was indicted on a charge of criminal attempt bribery of a public servant, a Class A misdemeanor, and Allison was indicted on a charge of failure to report child dependency, neglect or abuse, first offense, a Class B misdemeanor.
According to University of South Florida spokesperson Althea Paul, Smith was hired by the Tampa university on Aug. 7 for a temporary nine-month role in the Department of Psychology as a visiting instructor.
“Promptly upon learning of the allegations against Todd Smith, the University of South Florida placed him on administrative leave,” Paul said.
The State Journal obtained Smith’s personnel file at Franklin County Schools via an open records request. According to documents in the file, Smith was hired officially by the district as a math and science teacher at Bondurant on Aug. 24 of last year. He passed a criminal background check at the time of his hire.
Earlier that month, Smith was issued a temporary teaching certificate and emergency substitute teaching certificate to teach in the school district by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board. Smith’s contract with FCS was for only the 2018-19 school year. Just prior to that, Smith was a substitute teacher in Anderson County.
A March 15 letter in his personnel file from FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp notified Smith that he was suspended with pay from his position in the school district, pending an investigation. That suspension was extended on March 27 and April 19. Another letter from Kopp on April 23 gave notice to Smith that the contract would not be renewed for the 2019-20 school year. A notice of non-renewal is required by law.
In his incident report, Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Montey Chappell, who was then a school resource officer for FCS, said that he returned a call to Frankfort police on March 15 regarding a report taken the day before. A Frankfort police report of the call said that “a student had reported that they had been harassed by their teacher” and FPD transferred the case to Chappell formally on March 25 to continue the investigation.
Chappell said that Kopp, FCS Human Resources Director Holly Adkins and Bondurant Middle School Principal Whitney Allison met to discuss the allegations against Smith. Chappell reported that Kopp, Allison and Adkins then met with Smith, who then left the school “without incident.”
“He never set foot in the building again,” Kopp recently told The State Journal.
Kopp said that if law enforcement become involved in an investigation in the school district, the investigation is under the officers’ purview, so Smith’s suspension was extended through the end of the school year because the district was not notified of any conclusion.
Kentucky state law says that a superintendent has a duty to make a report to the Education Professional Standards Board regarding any certified school employees for four reasons:
“Whose contract is terminated or not renewed, for cause except failure to meet local standards for quality of teaching performance prior to the employee gaining tenure.
"Who resigns from, or otherwise leaves, a position under threat of contract termination, or non-renewal, for cause.
"Who is convicted in a criminal prosecution.
"Who otherwise may have engaged in any actions or conduct while employed in the school district that might reasonably be expected to warrant consideration for action against the certificate under KRS 161.120.”
The EPSB denied an open records request from the State Journal seeking a report made against Smith by FCS on the basis that “reports of educator misconduct filed with the Education Professional Standards Board that have not yet resulted in an educator case are preliminary in nature and, therefore, exempt” from the state's open records law.
“Any reports required by law, we made, but I cannot speak about personnel issues,” Kopp said when asked if he filed such a report.
On Thursday, Sheriff Chris Quire said that the indictment against Smith had not been formally served to his knowledge.
Smith did not respond to an email seeking to confirm his identity.