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UPDATE: Parkway West coach charged

7:01 AM, Jan 27, 2011   |    comments
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St. Louis County, Mo. (KSDK) -- Officials with the Parkway School District will meet with students Thursday, as they investigate allegations of a sexual relationship involving a Parkway West wrestling coach and a student.

School officials also say counselors will also be on hand Thursday.

Chesterfield police have arrested and charged Jason Lewis with multiple counts of statutory rape, statutory sodomy and sexual contact with a student while on school property.

Parkway school officials received a tip to a 24-hour hotline that Lewis may have had a sexual relationship with a student. The investigation was turned over to Chesterfield police who charged Lewis on Wednesday.

Lewis, who was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation, has worked for the district since 2008. He has served as a wrestling coach and study hall teaching assistant.

In a statement to parents, Parkway West principal Dr. Jeremy Mitchell said, "This is surprising and obviously deeply concerning because nothing is more important to us than the safety of your children."

Lewis, an O'Fallon, Missouri resident, is charged with: three counts of "Statutory rape second," five counts of "Statutory sodomy second," and three counts of "Sexual contact with a student while on public school property." He is being held on $100,000 cash bond.

Parkway West letter sent to parents:

Dear West High Families, 

I need to let you know about some deeply regrettable news, and apologize for having to send this letter to you via e-mail.

Being a parent myself, I believe it is something you would want to know as soon as possible.

On Monday, Parkway's Security Department received a tip via our 24-hour security hotline (415-SAFE) that a West High employee may have been involved in inappropriate sexual activity with one of our students. We immediately began an investigation and reported the matter to our
SRO and the Chesterfield Police Department. The individual in question has been removed from school and suspended without pay.

This is surprising and obviously deeply concerning because nothing is more important to us than the safety of your children. Since the fall of 2008, the individual being charged has served as a wrestling coach and study hall teaching assistant at West High.

As with all new employees, a thorough police background check was completed in August 2008 revealing no previous
instances of misconduct. While the police are still gathering the facts, we do not believe anyone else was involved.

I understand and share the dismay and concern you may have about this situation. Every Parkway employee is held to extremely high standards and we value the trust you place in us
every day to keep your children safe. That is our absolute highest priority. To that end, we will continue to work with the authorities in their investigation and will not tolerate this type of
unacceptable behavior.

Thank you for your understanding and confidence. I hope you will call me at (314) 415-7500 with any concerns or questions you may have. We also have counselors available for any student who might need them. We will continue to do whatever we can to protect the welfare of your children and provide them with a safe learning environment.

Sincerely,
Dr. Jeremy Mitchell
Principal

Parkway district statement:

On Monday, Jan. 24, we received a tip via our 24-hour safety hotline that an athletic coach at West High School may have been involved in inappropriate sexual activity with one of our students. We immediately began an investigation and reported the matter to the Chesterfield Police Department. In the interest of the safety of our students, the individual was quickly removed from school and suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Since the fall of 2008, the individual has served as a wrestling coach and study hall teaching assistant at West High. Before being hired in 2008, a federal police background check was completed revealing no previous instances of misconduct.

This is obviously very concerning to us, and we are continuing to cooperate fully with the investigation. This type of behavior in unacceptable and will not be tolerated by anyone in the Parkway School District. We regret deeply that these things can happen despite our best efforts to keep students safe. We have sent a letter home to parents and staff, and are reminding them that we need their ongoing help to protect our children. At school, we are talking with students and encouraging them to share any concerns they have, no matter how small.

KSDK

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