COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The State Board of Education has disciplined 18 South Carolina teachers in the past two years for sexual offenses against students.
The State of Columbia reports that the latest teacher disciplined is Kinsley Wentzky, a Dreher High School teacher who had her teaching certificate suspended last week after she was charged with two counts of sexual battery with a student.
Education officials entered Wentzky's name into a national database of suspended teachers.
"When you are a person of power you have influence over a students grades, studentâ??s promotion in school and other things located to their academic and social career. Itâ??s just inappropriate for a teacher student relationship to exist," said Department of Education spokesman Jay Ragley.Two years ago sexual battery with a student became a crime no matter the studentâ??s age.Wentzky is the 2nd educator charged under that law and the first teacher in Columbia.In South Carolina 16 is the legal age of consent. Education leaders feel when dealing with a person of power, 16-year-olds may not make the correct choice.ã??"There are a lot of things 16 and 17-year-olds feel that they are ready for, but this is one case we feel they are not ready to make those type of decisions," adds Ragley.The Department of Education does extensive background checks before someone is hired.They also train employees on signs of child danger and sex abuse and educators hope this training will help point out signs of potential abuse and help administrators recognize improper relationships."Hopefully that will encourage folks who for some reason may have an interest in this illegal activity not to seek the teaching profession, and for those who may have already engaged in it, to come forward to seek help to fix their problems and get them out of the classroom so no more children will be harmed," said Ragley.
Wentzky's lawyer says he didn't know his client's license was suspended and wouldn't talk about the case.
The State Board of Education has reprimanded or suspended or revoked the licenses of 143 teachers in South Carolina since the beginning of 2011 for problems ranging from coming to school drunk to defaulting on loans for teacher certification exams.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)