By Mindy Ragan Wood
A substitute teacher who started in November with Yukon Public Schools was arrested by El Reno police Monday.
The teacher, identified by El Reno police as Jeffery Smith, 61, of El Reno, is accused of having a sexually explicit text message correspondence with someone whom he believed was a teenage girl. The person he actually was corresponding with was an El Reno police detective.
Smith was jailed on complaints of unlawful communication by use of technology and lewd acts or proposals to a child. Smith’s bond was set at $75,000, Canadian County jail records show.
El Reno police were assigned the case by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, a police report shows.
A statement issued from Yukon schools Superintendent Jason Simeroth provided some details.
“During the investigation it was uncovered that the individual had applied for a background check with the State Department of Education, a national criminal history record search,” Simeroth wrote in a prepared statement. “While the background with the OSDE was clear, the police department continued to follow the trail and identified the individual as a substitute teacher in Yukon beginning in November 2018. Once again, the person involved passed all background checks and was cleared prior to any employment opportunities.”
Simeroth said in his statement that the district did not believe there was any inappropriate physical contact between the teacher and students, but school officials are still cooperating with detectives in an ongoing investigation.
“Finally, the person in question did not substitute in every school in our district,” Simeroth’s statement reads. “To provide further transparency we will be sending an additional notification to the parents/guardians of the students in classrooms where the suspect substituted. Should they need to speak with anyone about anything, our counselors and administrators will be available for students and parents. If you do not receive an additional message, then your child was not in a classroom where the individual was present.”
Simeroth notified parents through email and the district’s phone message system.
“We believe that it is our responsibility to notify our patrons of such situations so that you are able to discuss with your children that no matter what the situation, school, church, grocery store, athletics, any time they are uncomfortable with a situation or an individual they need to tell someone they trust,” Simeroth wrote. “Bad people try to find ways to do bad things and we are thankful that our staff and our law enforcement officers find ways to stop them.”