A kindergarten teacher arrested Friday was housing a 16-year-old girl who had been reported missing and lied about it to investigators, Clark County School District police said.
Melvyn Sprowson, 44, faces charges that include kidnapping and lying to police. Sprowson, who teaches at Wengert Elementary School near Nellis Boulevard and Sahara Avenue, was in his first year with the district, school police said.
The 16-year-old girl’s family reported her missing to Henderson police on Aug. 29. During the joint investigation by Henderson and school police, they discovered Sprowson’s interactions with the teen on a social media site, according to school police Sgt. Mitch Maciszak.
Maciszak would not specify which social media site was used.
After discovering the interactions, police questioned Sprowson at his school Thursday. During the interview, Sprowson denied knowing the teen.
On Friday, school police went to Sprowson’s residence at 4915 E. Russell Road and found the teen “unharmed and in good health,” police said.
School police detectives detained Sprowson at the elementary school later that day and again questioned him about the teen’s whereabouts.
“When we followed up again, he denied knowing her and having her at his residence,” Maciszak said. “At that point, we already had her in our protective custody.”
Sprowson was arrested at Wengert and transported to the Clark County Detention Center on Friday.
Sprowson did not use force to take the girl, according to police.
“She was a willing participant,” Maciszak said.
The kidnapping charge came about because the teen was a known missing child, under the age of consent, who Sprowson was concealing, according to Maciszak.
Though police said she went willingly, Nevada law states the girl was not of age to consent to staying with Sprowson without permission from her legal guardian. The age of consent in such situations is 18.
Maciszak said that the investigation is still ongoing and that Sprowson may be facing more charges related to the case.
“We’re still going through a lot of material,” Maciszak said. “We’re still looking at more avenues and more possible charges.”
While detectives were initially looking into possible sexual misconduct charges against Sprowson as a teacher, they were not brought forward.
For a teacher to be charged with sexual misconduct with a student, the student must be younger than 16 and have been a student at the same school as the teacher at some point.
Maciszak said the principal of the elementary school assigned a second person to Sprowson’s classroom when she learned of the investigation.
“The school took initial precaution,” Maciszak said. “They made sure he wasn’t alone with any of the students.”
Sprowson is assigned to home with pay per his contract, according to district spokeswoman Melinda Malone. While assigned to home, Sprowson, who remained in jail Monday, is not permitted to be on a district campus.
Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at firstname.lastname@example.org and (702) 383-4638. Follow him on Twitter @ColtonLochhead.