The Duval County School Board met Tuesday morning to ask why a 26-year-old elementary school teacher accused of inappropriate contact with a student in 2009 was allowed back in the classroom.
Christopher Bacca, 26, was arrested one week ago on multiple sexual battery and lewd and lascivious conduct charges involving a child.
According to the police report, the Windy Hill Elementary School teacher showered with a boy younger than 12 more than once while the victim stayed the night at Bacca's home.
The boy told police that Bacca touched his private parts with his hand on more than one occasion, according to the police report. The boy also told police that Bacca performed oral sex on him more than once, according to the report.
Bacca remains in the Duval County jail without bail.
Bacca was Windy Hill's reigning Teacher of the Year. Bacca was also the co-chair of the youth committee at Riverside Presbyterian Church.
During a special School Board called to discuss a staff recommendation to suspend Bacca without pay pending termination his employment, board members questioned district policies about when teachers under investigation for inappropriate behavior can be returned to the classroom.
The board agreed there was a lack of communication between police, the Department of Children and Families and school district officials.
Because all of the parties involved in that decision three years ago have retired or resigned, district officials say they can only move forward, review their disciplinary procedures and make sure something like this doesn't happen again.
"Everybody's taking a piece of it," board chairwoman Betty Burney said. "The Duval County public school system is looking at it for one reason, JSO is looking at something for criminal and the other (DCF) is looking at it with regards to the child, so the three just need to be coordinated I think."
The school district's new human resources director was asked to review current procedures and make recommendations for improvement. She said that ultimately, Bacca was allowed to return to the classroom because no criminal charges were filed.
"Hindsight's 20-20, but just make sure we can move forward and make sure whatever we can learn from this is applied and we don't have situations like this in the future," Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals said.
The district is also revisiting its guidelines for principals to follow when interviewing and hiring employees.
"The information that took place in 2009, of course, never came to the board," Burney said. "It was a Step 2 reprimand based on information that was on file, based on information that had been received. Now that we have new information, the board is going to do what it has to do, and we're going to follow the superintendent's recommendation."
The board set Aug. 7 for a vote on Bacca's suspension without pay pending termination. On Aug. 21, the board will be introduced to revised procedures for handling such investigations.
Bacca was investigated three years prior to this arrest after the Department of Children and Families was told there was an inappropriate relationship between an elementary school teacher and a boy.
According to investigative reports of that incident, Bacca had a relationship with the boy and his mother. The child was reported to be spending the night at Bacca's home two to three times a week, sleeping in the same bed with Bacca and the boy's mother, according to the report.
In an initial interview with a DCF child protection investigator in October 2009, the boy said he had been sleeping with Bacca but denied any sexual contact, according to the report.
The DCF investigator and a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective agreed at that point that Bacca should be removed from the classroom at Long Branch Elementary School, where he was teaching fourth grade at the time, pending further investigation, according to the report.