Former Charles D. Owen Middle School math and science teacher and coach Kevin Mark Calloway, 41, pleaded guilty last week to child pornography charges in federal court and now faces a litany of fines and up to 70 years in prison, according to a report in the Asheville Citizen-Times. Both a principal and assistant principal at the Swannanoa school submitted their resignations prior to his plea.
At the end of March, Carolina Public Press submitted a set of public records requests to Buncombe County Schools and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office requesting further information about how and when the school system and law enforcement responded to and started their investigation into allegations against Calloway.
The public records requests were developed during a CPP Full Disclosure workshop held at UNC Asheville and in collaboration with attendees, which included area students, several community members and journalists from Carolina Public Press, Mountain Xpress, (Hendersonville) Times-News and VERVE Magazine, WCQS and WLOS TV. The workshop taught and updated participants about the N.C. Public Records Law, the Freedom of Information Act and how the public can use these laws to gain access to public information.
A set of documents made public following the request are collected here. Among the new disclosures, made public in search warrants:
- Detectives were given original handwritten, signed statement by four male students at the school.
- Calloway’s actions at school have been the focus of news reports. But, according to the documents, law enforcement determined that some videos included a teenaged minor male who was undressing and urinating at a bathroom in Calloway’s home. There were also videos of a “minor female child dressing and undressing in a bathroom.” The search warrant requested permission to search for hidden cameras in Calloway’s home.
School system responds
Also, in response to the public records request, school system representatives offered further insight into the involvement of top administrators. The system fired Calloway on March 1, according to his termination letter that was released after the information request. Immorality was one of the causes for termination, according to the letter.
Buncombe County Schools Personnel Director Cynthia Lopez said she was not aware of any past complaints about Calloway. Also, she reported that she had no Calloway-related e-mails from Vicky Matthews, the school’s principal who has since resigned, or any assistant principal at the school. “If I did, however, these would not be public record because of the law cited below that provides that the personnel record of an employee or former employee is not public,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Jan Blunt, spokesperson for the school system, said in an e-mail that the Board of Education and the central office’s “first notice of it (the incident) came from law enforcement after they launched their investigation and promptly arrested Mr. Calloway.”
Buncombe County School System would not provide copies of Calloway’s background check information, specifically any pre-employment references and criminal history check information. Lopez said it “is not a matter of public record.”