DUBLIN — A West Bladen teacher was given early dismissal on Friday when she was arrested by Bladen County sheriff’s deputies and charged with sexual crimes against students.
According to Sheriff Jim McVicker, deputies arrested Shanna May Harrelson, 38, of Clarkton.
“We were notified by the Bladen County School Board last week of possible inappropriate activity by a teacher,” said McVicker. “Investigators began interviewing students as both witnesses and potential victims last week. Our investigation has been ongoing this week and (Friday) we arrested Ms. Harrelson, an earth science teacher at West Bladen High School.”
McVicker said Harrelson was charged with one count of disseminating obscene material to a minor, one count of crimes against nature and one count of a sex act with a student.
“Both my office and the School Board have a zero tolerance for this type behavior,” McVicker added. “Every effort has been put forth to insure the safety and well-being of our students. Dr. Taylor and his staff at the Central Office and the staff at West Bladen High School have cooperated fully with our investigation.”
Rumors of a teacher at West Bladen High being accused of having sexual contact with students came to light in late April, but a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said at the time that an investigation was conducted and no charges would be filed.
According to Major Larry Guyton with the Sheriff’s Office, the earlier allegation and Friday’s arrest were connected.
“We had a new witness come forward, and that changed everything,” he said. “It gave the case a while new life.”
According to a press release from Bladen County Schools on Friday, Harrelson was immediately suspended without pay “pending the outcome of any continued or further investigation.” The release also stated “the teacher was placed on suspension with pay beginning April 26 …”
“The safety and well-being of all Bladen County Schools students is of the utmost concern and we can assure you that any inappropriate behavior or conduct by any Bladen County Schools employee will not be tolerated,” the statement continued.
Harrelson was placed under a $55,000 secured bond Friday afternoon and was scheduled to have a first appearance hearing in Bladen County District Court on Monday.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.