Superintendent: District In ‘Shock’ By Teacher Allegations
CLYMER — The Clymer Central School District was left in “shock” following the announcement that agriculture teacher Scott Aikens was facing criminal charges for possession of child pornography on Sept. 14.
The district held its first board meeting Monday since Aikens, 60, was placed on paid administrative leave after being contacted by the Department of Homeland Security. The board announced that Aikens will remain on leave, according to New York State laws protecting a tenured teacher, district attorney Dana Lundberg said.
“Under New York state law for any tenured employee, they are afforded protections,” Lundberg said. “That is not a call to be made by this board. That’s a call under New York state law.”
Lundberg said to those who attended Monday’s meeting that the board didn’t agree with the state law, but noted that there is a longer process that could potentially remove Aikens from his position. He also noted that Aikens does have the option to resign.
“I just want everybody to know that we are all in this together as far as being in shock of what went on,” Superintendent Ed Bailey said. “We certainly in no way defend Mr. Aikens for what he did and the situation he’s in.”
Prompted by a question by a member of the audience, Bailey said there is no indication from the Homeland Security Investigations that the charges had any connection to his position as a teacher. The district was assured by HSI that company property was not used for criminal activity.
Last week, Aikens was granted $50,000 bail on conditions that included home confinement. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has until Dec. 18 to bring an indictment against Aikens or the charges will be dismissed.
The agriculture teacher is accused of having an online presence on a Thai-based website involved with child pornography, purchasing online related credits, leaving 15 public comments and downloading content from the site. The criminal charge carries a mandatory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
An attached affidavit to the updated criminal complaint against Aikens stated that on Sept. 18, downloaded child pornography was discovered on a laptop that was confiscated during the execution of a search warrant of his Clymer residence.
Aikens graduated from Clymer Central School and began as a teacher in 2005. Prior to teaching, he was a dairy farmer in Clymer and was the adviser of the student organization Future Farmers of America while working at the school.
One individual in the community told The Post-Journal on Monday she was in support of Aikens and his family. The individual didn’t elaborate as to what extent she supported Aikens.
When asked if she was shocked upon learning about the criminal charges, she nodded her head indicating her disbelief.
“They’re a wonderful family,” said the woman, who wished not to comment further. “You won’t find a kinder and more wonderful family.”
Bailey, meanwhile, said he was optimistic the school district could move forward and away from negative publicity.