The Gwinnett Police Department in Georgia sent WSB-TV this photo of Zachary Meadors, whose parents reported him missing on Monday.
Photo: Gwinnett Police Department
Photo: Gwinnett Police Department

DeKalb teacher accused of sex with student was hired, then certified

Zachary Meadors, the teacher who killed himself following accusations he had sex with a sixth-grade male student, was not certified to teach when the DeKalb County School District hired him. 

Meadors was hired by to teach at Freedom Middle School on Aug. 2, 2017, according to human resources data found online. Teachers began working the week before students returned to school that year on Aug. 7. 

District officials said they believe teacher certifications are backdated for July 1 of each fiscal year. According to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, Meadors was not officially certified to teach until Aug. 8, 2017.

Meadors was not hired on a certification waiver, a process district officials have said they utilize for hard-to-fill positions.

Students in a sex trafficking seminar on Oct. 12 were asked if they knew anyone engaged in an inappropriate relationship and one student turned the 12-year-old boy’s name in. Investigators determined Meadors sent explicit text messages and photos to the boy, and Meadors admitted to meeting with the boy away from school, including public parks and at Meadors’ home.

Meadors disappeared Saturday after dropping off several letters and an iPad at his parents’ home, including instructions for splitting any money he had. 

District officials have come under fire for hiring practices as several missteps have come to light, including a teacher hired over the summer who lied on his resume apparently to hide a 2013 arrest for meth possession, a teacher hired in 2017 after being fired from her previous district in Toledo, Ohio, for allegations she verbally and physically assaulted students.

In both instances, the offences were found through internet searches.

In another case, a teacher was forced to retire in late 2016 after several of her students claimed she made threatening comments just after President Donald Trump was elected about getting them deported. She was brought back to the district as a substitute teacher in 2017, though a letter in her personnel file said she was ineligible for further employment with the district. 

When contacted about the alleged hiring snafus, district officials said in a statement that they stand by their current hiring practices.

“DCSD employs a variety of methods to ensure it hires the most highly-qualified, most effective employees; this includes verifying the employee teaching credentials, performing background checks, and other means,” officials said in a statement. “Also, candidates are required to be truthful on their employment applications. We firmly believe in the effectiveness of this process.”

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