FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WRIC/7NEWS) — A former school counselor in Fairfax County was fired recently after it was discovered he was arrested in Chesterfield County two years ago for soliciting a minor. However, the school allegedly did not know about his prior record due to a unsuccessfully delivered email.
On Thursday, Aug. 18, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid sent a letter to parents informing them that she discovered 50-year-old Darren Thornton, a former counselor at Glasgow Middle School in Lincolnia, Va., was previously convicted of solicitation of prostitution from a minor.
According to Fairfax County Public Schools, Thornton started working at Glasgow Middle in 2020 and was recently fired. However, Thornton had several arrests for solicitation from a minor dating back two years.
According to reporting by ABC 7News, Chesterfield County Police arrested Thornton on Nov. 19, 2020 for solicitation of prostitution from a minor. But this week, ABC 7News only learned about Thornton’s record when he was arrested again this June
Thornton’s initial arrest appeared to have not been communicated due to a clerical error. The Chesterfield County Police Department told ABC 7News that the former superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools sent an email about Thornton’s arrest on Nov. 20, 2020, one day after the arrest took place. But this week, Chesterfield County Police Department said that this email came back as “undeliverable.”
Thornton continued working as a school counselor even after he was convicted in March 2022 on the charge of solicitation of prostitution from a minor. In June 2022, he was arrested again, and the school district was informed of the arrest directly by Chesterfield County Police.
Thornton’s removal from the school district has drawn the attention on a statewide level, including from the governor.
“This is an astonishing revelation,” Governor Glenn Youngkin told ABC 7News. “For there to be a school counselor, middle school counselor, who was arrested for sex solicitation of a minor back in November 2020. And for that issue only now to be resolved, if those facts are correct, this is wholly unacceptable. And this is again, a failure on behalf of administrators to in fact protect students.”
“I have a daughter who is in Fairfax County Public Schools. And I, like every parent who got that email, was dispirited, scared, and quite frankly justifiably upset,” Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Steve Descano said. “We want to be able to drop our sons and daughters off to school and know that, you know, they’re going to be in a safe place. That should be the expectation. I’m glad to look into it because quite frankly, this never should have happened.”