A now-former Harnett County Public Schools science teacher has been charged with multiple counts of taking indecent liberties with students.
Shawn Christopher Hicks, age 27, was arrested and charged with three counts of taking indecent liberties with a student.
Indecent liberties with a student is a Class I felony carrying a sentence of three to 12 months in prison per instance.
Hicks turned himself in on April 6 after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was released the same day on a $50,000 secured bond. His next court date is April 8 at 9 a.m.
After the parents of a Harnett Central Middle School student filed a complaint against Hicks on Feb. 26, an investigation by the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office found there were three victims, but later indicated there could be more victims out there.
A statement on Harnett Sheriff Wayne Coats’ Facebook page said that all three incidents took place away from school and that Hicks is no longer employed with Harnett County Public Schools. According to the sheriff’s office, the alleged incidents took place at Hicks’ home located in the Mitchell Ponds Mobile Estates.
Hicks was apparently running some type of youth mentoring program out of his mobile home for boys lacking a father and at one point had been named “Beginning Teacher of the Year.” He was also allegedly using a pastor position in Bunn to seek out victims.
Harnett County Schools confirmed Hicks is no longer employed but was a science teacher at Harnett Central Middle School from Dec. 19, 2016, to Feb. 25, 2022.
The district offered a brief statement:
“While we cannot comment on specific personnel issues, Harnett County Schools has high expectations for the professionalism and conduct of the staff. HCS takes any concerns about staff conduct very seriously, and swiftly investigates and takes appropriate action when concerns are raised.”
Hicks has an active teaching license on file with the state that was issued on July 1, 2021, in the area of Science (6-9). That license, unless revoked, will not expire until the end of June 2026.
An inquiry into whether or not a background check was performed for Hicks was sent to the district but a response has not been supplied yet. Similarly, a question about Hicks’ departure from the district was also submitted with a pending question if the district has notified the state board of education per state law. When and if the district responds, this article will be updated.
Harnett County Public Schools Public Information Officer Natalie Tucker Ferrell responded that “we do background checks on all potential employees during the pre-employment process and subscribe to a continual monitoring service of background checks for all Harnett County Schools employees.”
State law requires school districts to report a resignation related to criminal activity to the N.C. State Board of Education.
The district has indicated they have complied with this reporting requirement.
“Shawn Hicks was suspended with pay on February 22, 2022, and resigned on February 25, 2022. The district compiled all reporting requirements at the time,” Farrel said in an email response.