GREENWICH, Conn. The Greenwich Public School district was quick to defend its hiring practices after sexually explicit photographs of children were found Wednesday in the home of the Eastern Middle School orchestra teacher who apparently committed suicide.
During investigations into the death of Steven Allen, 57, police found many sexually explicit photos that appeared to be child pornography in a storage bin in his home. He was found dead Nov. 9 in his Cos Cob apartment with a self-inflicted gunshot wound after co-workers called police when he did not show up to work.
Interim Superintendent Roger Lulow said a review of Allen's personnel file and background check, including finger printing, before his hire revealed "no reports, accusations, or suspicions of inappropriate behavior nor any criminal record." He said the district was relieved no evidence was found that local individuals were victims of inappropriate or illegal acts on Allen's part.
The district released this statement by Lulow on Wednesday night: "We are both surprised and distressed at this news. We are surprised because there had been no indication or suspicion that Mr. Allen was involved in any activity of this nature, nor have there been any complaints or accusations regarding his behavior. We are distressed because we do not condone or tolerate this behavior in anyone, much less a member of our staff."
Lulow said the district was relieved that, according to police, there was no evidence that local individuals were victims of inappropriate or illegal acts on Allen's part. "The majority of the discovered photographs appear to be from websites that cater to this type of criminal activity, many of which are located in foreign countries," Greenwich Police Chief James Heavey said in a statement released late Wednesday.
The district, in particular Eastern Middle School and Greenwich High School, will provide support and guidance for staff, students and families.
The district also is directing parents to contact their child's school psychologist, social worker, or guidance counselor if they have concerns about how to respond to specific questions from their children or if they are concerned about their children's response to the information.
Because many of the sexually explicit photos appeared to be child pornography, police have called in the FBI for technical assistance. Heavey said the investigation may take several weeks to complete.
The district emphasized its intolerance for any illegal behavior on the part of any employee of the Greenwich Public Schools, especially when the health and safety of students is in question.
To maintain or hold a license to teach in the state of Connecticut, teachers must abide by the Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for Educators. The document addresses expectations around both professional and unprofessional conduct.
It states: "The education profession is vested by the public with a trust and responsibility requiring the highest ideals of professionalism. Therefore, the educator accepts both the public trust and the responsibilities to practice the profession according to the highest possible degree of ethical conduct and standards. Such responsibilities include the commitment to the students, the profession, the community and the family."
District curriculum in grades 1, 4, 8, and 11, teaches students on how to recognize inappropriate or illegal behavior and what to do if they experience or witness those acts.
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