A fired Ridgeland principal is fighting for her job. Sharon Summers said Thursday she had no knowledge two softball coaches were having inappropriate sexual relations with a 15 year old student.
The 20 year educator was recently dismissed for her handling of parent complaints concerning the interaction. We met in her attorney's office Thursday morning.
In July 27-year-old Michael L. Porter and, his wife, 26-year-old Blair Elizabeth Porter, of Brandon, were charged with sexual battery of a 15 year old female student at the school.
"When they were arrested with those charges, even up until that moment, even some of the other individuals, it was a shock that that was occurring," said Summers. "At that time, I had no idea that anything like that was occurring at that time."
Summers said she followed strict protocol in handling the allegations when they were presented to her by the parents of the female student.
"At the time, I did have a meeting with them. I did follow the steps in place, I did bring in additional administration onto the case," said Summers. "But there was nothing there that said sexual battery at the time. It was a parent complaint and I handled it as a parent complaint."
Summers said the first hint of inappropriate contact were text messages presented to her in May between the couple and student. The former principal told us she was singled out for blame.
"I have been used here it seems, as a scapegoat in the matter, or a sacrificial lamb here, because I have followed every protocol, I followed every policy I have done each step as I was directed to do," said Summers. "An to just be called in and out of the blue, in the way that it was and terminated it was devastating."
Her attorney, Lisa Ross, says Summers is not complacent in some wrong doing.
The educator said the whole story will come out during a public hearing before the Madison County school board September 3.
"I want all of the facts brought out so that everyone will see how I handled the situation; that they will also know that I handled it appropriately and so be able to hear all the facts, of the situation that I cannot share at this time," said Summers.
The former principal wants the school board to reverse the superintendent's decision and reinstate her to the principals position.
Michael Porter has been released on $25,000 bond and Blair Porter has been released on $5,000 bond. Blair Porter was noticeably pregnant as she left the jail.
At the time of the alleged incident, Michael Porter was the softball coach at Ridgeland high school, and Blair Porter was a teacher at Old Towne Middle school, and assistant softball coach at Ridgeland high school.
The alleged victim was a member of a team coached by Michael Porter. The indictment follows an investigation by the Ridgeland police department.
According to the police report, a mother reported her 15-year-old daughter was being contacted by the couple after school hours, and that it "went well beyond that of a teacher student relationship."
She also told investigators, she believes the inappropriate behavior may have begun when her daughter was a student at Old Towne Middle school.
The police search warrant allowed investigators to see texts between the couple and the student. They report that some texts included naked pictures and sexually explicit language.
When police talked to the alleged victim, she admitted to a sexual incident that occurred at the couple's home in Brandon, and one that occurred at Ridgeland high school.
The Assistant DA handling the case tells us that the incident at the school happened in the press box. Language in the indictment suggests Blair Porter arranged the sexual encounters.
The District Attorney's office tells us that they do not intend to pursue charges in Rankin county because of the possibility of having to subject a minor child to 2 separate trials. The family said that they agreed with this.
The charges against the couple carry a maximum of 30 years in prison for each of them. We spoke to Madison county superintendent Dr. Ronnie McGehee who said the couple has been removed from their positions with the schools. The couple would have to register as sex offenders if convicted.
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