An Iredell-Statesville Public Schools System (ISS) substitute teacher was arrested for possessing pot and alcohol on school property during school hours.
Thobani Viki, age 30, was arrested on Mar. 27 by Iredell County Sheriff’s Deputies and was charged with Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana, Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia, and Misdemeanor Possession of a Malt Beverage on School Property.
Viki was taken before Magistrate M. Nethken, who issued him a $10,000 secured bond. He is currently incarcerated at the Iredell County Detention Facility.
The Iredell Sheriff says Viki was arrested at Third Creek Middle School. He was arrested the day after his 30th Birthday per the date of birth on his arrest records listed as 3-26-93.
According to a Mar. 26 Facebook post by the Iredell County Sheriff, on Mar. 27, “school staff members at Third Creek Middle School noticed a very strong odor of Marijuana coming from a classroom in the school. Staff members immediately asked the School Resource Officer to investigate the complaint.”
“The deputy entered the classroom and noticed the odor of Marijuana coming from the area of the teacher’s desk. When asked about the scent, the substitute teacher, Thobani Viki, made statements about possessing marijuana,” the Facebook post said.
“I am proud of the fast actions of Third Creek Middle School staff members as well as the investigation conducted by our School Resource Officer,” Iredell Sheriff Campbell said in the post. “This is a prime example of why having SROs at every school is so vital to the safety and security of our schools.”
Viki’s belongings were searched and law enforcement found “marijuana, several packages of marijuana cigarette materials, and four cans of Twisted Tea, which is 5 percent alcohol by volume.”
The Iredell Sheriff noted that “Thobani Viki is currently on Probation for DWI Level 5 out of Alamance County.” Such a charge would have appeared in a background check, which the school district appears to have ignored.
A Level 5 charge is the lowest of the possible DWI charges in North Carolina that carries a fine of up to $200 with a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of 60 days.
“A judge can suspend the sentence but upon completion that the driver spends 24 hours in jail, perform 24 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 30 days,” according to the NC Department of Public Safety.
According to the Iredell Sheriff, Viki is not an ISS employee but instead works for Educational Staffing Solutions, a company that apparently contracts with ISS to fill positions within the school system.
The ISS issued the following statement regarding Viki’s arrest:
“Thobani Viki served as a substitute teacher for 13 days at Third Creek Middle School. Viki was hired in March 2023 by Education Staffing Solutions (ESS), a company Iredell-Statesville Schools contracted with in February 2021 to manage and staff substitutes. Due to this incident, Iredell-Statesville Schools is reviewing the safety process and procedures taken by ESS before an employee is cleared to be in our buildings. Iredell-Statesville Schools is committed to keeping the safety of our students and staff as a top priority.”
There is no NC teaching license on file with the state for Viki.
It has been reported by the Charlotte Observer that the firm from which Viki was hired, Educational Staffing Solutions, didn’t find anything wrong with his background. It would also appear that the ISS district didn’t do its own check of Viki.
As far as Iredell-Statesville Schools knew, he would be a suitable addition to campus. That’s what Educational Staffing Solutions told the district, at least.
The substitute staffing agency — used by more than 900 districts in 34 states and serving more than 5 million students nationally — told ISS Viki’s background check did not raise any issues, according to district public information officer Jada Jonas.
But Viki, 30, was out on probation — convicted on a 2019 driving while intoxicated charge — when he stepped onto Third Creek Middle School’s campus last month. He had, police say, four Twisted Teas, a small bag of marijuana and a half-smoked blunt stowed in his backpack.
He didn’t make it through the school day before staff noticed a “very strong” marijuana odor coming from a classroom, according to an Iredell County Sheriff’s Office news release. He was swiftly arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, misdemeanor possession of marijuana paraphernalia, and misdemeanor possession of a malt beverage on school property, according to police.
An internal school district investigation is underway.
It’s not clear if ESS performed a background check on Viki or why it didn’t flag the school district.
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