February 12, 2016 - 5:44 pm
A former band teacher accused of “inappropriate contact” with students at a North Las Vegas charter school in 2012 was offered the chance to resign by the school’s principal for unrelated behavior the same year and was hired the next year by the Clark County School District.
William F. Crawford was arrested Monday and booked into the Las Vegas City Jail on two counts of lewdness with a minor under 14, North Las Vegas police said.
Crawford was arrested nearly two years after a 14-year-old girl went to police with her father and said Crawford had kissed her on the forehead and lips on several occasions when he was her band teacher at Somerset Academy in 2012, according to North Las Vegas police documents.
Police were notified in June 2014, but because the officer assigned to the case retired the investigation didn’t begin until January 2015.
After the girl and other students helped Crawford set up a Halloween carnival in 2012, the teacher walked them to a nearby taco shop. She and Crawford, who had kissed her on the forehead two weeks earlier, held hands to and from the restaurant, but she didn’t know who grabbed whose hand first, she told police.
When her parents came to the Centennial Parkway campus to pick her up that day, the girl ran into the band room to get her instrument and Crawford thanked her for her help, kissed her on the mouth and told her he loved her, the police report said.
Crawford said he may have kissed her on the forehead and admitted he gave her gloves for Christmas, but denied ever kissing her on the lips. He said the girl had tried to grab his hand on the way back to school from the restaurant the night of the carnival, but he pushed her hand away, the report said.
“He stated he never felt any feelings for (the girl) other than as a student,” a North Las Vegas detective wrote in the report.
Two other students, at least one of whose parents worked at the school, reported that Crawford had tickled one of them and carried others around “like they are little babies.” The same student who said Crawford tickled her said he had once poked her butt with a pencil as she passed his desk.
Crawford said he hugged a lot of students but never tickled them or touched anyone’s butt with a pencil.
“He told me that he was sorry if he ever made a student feel uncomfortable,” the detective wrote.
The school’s principal at the time, Gayle Jefferson, “let Crawford go around October of 2012” because he punched a steel cabinet in front of students. She said another teacher told her Crawford was carrying students like “little babies” and hoisting them over his shoulder, “which seemed inappropriate.”
At least two parents filed written complaints in 2012. Jefferson told one parent a week later that she had offered Crawford the chance to resign instead of firing him.
Jefferson told police in 2015 she couldn’t find the statements.
Crawford was hired by the school district in August 2013, and worked as a band teacher at Eldorado High School until August 2014. District spokeswoman Melinda Malone could not say why Crawford left the district.
North Las Vegas police and the director of the state public charter school authority said responsibility to report inappropriate conduct falls on the charter school’s administration, be it the principal or the school’s board.
Somerset Academy’s board chairman could not be reached Thursday.
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