HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A group of Hampton parents are upset because they say their children’s elementary school didn’t tell them about charges against a teacher at the school.
Kimberlee Dietz is a former Hampton Public Schools employee. Cpl. Mary Shackelford with the Hampton Police Division said Dietz, 31, of Hampton was arrested Monday and charged with felony use of a communications device to facilitate certain offenses involving a juvenile.
Dietz was granted a $15,000 bond with surety Wednesday morning and was later released. She cannot have contact with anyone under the age of 18 unless related by blood or marriage.
“I hope it’s not true,” said Tinika Pruitt, who said Dietz was her son’s fifth grade teacher at Asbury Elementary School.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by WAVY.com, Dietz sent sexually explicit pictures from her cell phone to an 11-year-old boy’s cell phone. The pictures, the complaint said, came after a conversation between Dietz and the boy where she expressed her interest in him.
Like other parents, Pruitt didn’t learn of the charges until she saw the story related to Pruitt on the news.
“That’s my son’s teacher,” Pruitt said as she explained her reaction. “And I couldn’t believe that she was on the news. It was shocking to me.”
Pruitt said she knew Dietz was no longer her son’s teacher. She received a letter from Asbury Elementary School’s principal on March 10 stating her son would have a long-term substitute until the end of the school year. However, Pruitt said she didn’t know why.
“Maybe she needs some time off,” said Pruitt, thinking back to when she received the letter. “I never thought anything else about it.”
Police started investigating the situation on March 2, and Dietz was arrested on Monday. It’s not clear where the student in question goes to school.
Pruitt reached out to the school board as soon as she realized why Dietz was no longer teaching. She and others wanted to know why parents weren’t informed of the situation.
One father, whose child had Dietz in school, wrote to WAVY.com saying, “It is sickening that the arrest of an educator for exchanging sexually explicit material did not motivate the administration to contact parents.”
Pruitt said she would have wanted to talk to her son about the allegations and make sure he was OK.
Hampton City Schools has responded. A school spokeswoman said the school system said the following in a message to parents:
Once the Hampton Police Department notified Hampton City Schools of these allegations, our division promptly took action to ensure the safety of our students. We also actively cooperated with the Hampton PD in their ongoing investigation.
We have been receiving concerns regarding why the school division did not widely communicate with parents when the allegations first surfaced. We did not share additional details for a few reasons. First of all, sharing additional details may have jeopardized the HPD investigation. Secondly, Hampton PD assured us no other students were involved. Finally, we did not want to share any information that could jeopardize the privacy and confidentiality of the student involved.
Pruitt said she understood, however, she didn’t feel better about the situation, knowing some students are often scared to talk about uncomfortable experiences.