By Tia Lynn Ivey
Longtime Morgan County High School (MCHS) Teacher, Steve DeLaigle resigned last month after an 18-year-old former MCHS student filed a complaint with the Madison Police Department at the end of June alleging that DeLaigle had sent “unsolicited and inappropriate” messages to the student’s phone requesting underage drinking while nude. The student provided screenshots of the electronic messages from DeLaigle to the police, which show DeLaigle suggesting he and the student “drown some cold ones” together, followed by a message that read, “Let’s make it happen bro. Cold beer and buck (expletive) wild.” DeLaigle later messaged the student that he was “hammering Jack and Cokes,” that his drink of choice was whiskey and that he enjoyed “Whisky wild” while “buck naked.”
The student replied, “I don’t get down like that,” and DeLaigle responded with, “Didn’t mean us together. Lol. That’s just how I party. But I ain’t down with dudes. Just like to drank (spic) with cool folk like you.” According to the incident report, DeLaigle messaged the student via Instagram and asked the student to add him on SnapChat, an app that allows for video exchanges that are automatically deleted after all parties have received and watched the video message.
According to Morgan County School System, DeLaigle violated several Educator Ethics Standards and would have violated state law, if the student had complied with DeLaigle’s requests.
“Specifically, Mr. DeLaigle initiated and attempted to engage in an inappropriate electronic relationship with a student. The content of the electronic communication solicited and encouraged the student to participate in behavior that would violate a state law,” said James Woodard, superintendent of schools in the complaint to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. “His behavior was detrimental to the health, welfare and morals of a student. I strongly believe that Mr. DeLaigle has impaired his effectiveness as a professional educator.”
According to the complaint, which was acquired by the Morgan County Citizen through a Freedom of Information Request, Morgan County High School Principal Dr. Miki Edwards, Assistant Superintendent Jean Triplett, Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn and Dr. Woodard met with DeLaigle on July 22 “to question him regarding his social media messages to the student on June 22…”
“Mr. DeLaigle did not provide any information regarding the incident and stated that he did not remember the student in question. We informed Mr. DeLaigle the incident would be reported to the GaPSC Ethics Division for further investigation. We also informed him the school district’s attorney had been contacted for guidance regarding potential termination. Mr. DeLaigle submitted a brief letter of resignation on July 25, 2016,” the complaint reads.
DeLaigle was first employed at MCHS as a Music/Chorus Teacher in 1998 and has coached the MCHS Swim Team for the last several years.
DeLaigle declined to submit a written statement regarding the incident for the school sytem’s report. According to DeLaigle’s attorney, Allen Lightcap, DeLaigle will cooperate with the Georgia Public Service Commission if contacted instead of writing a statement at this time.