Teacher arrest on child sex charges raises more questions about protecting students

4 teachers arrested in 2 years on charges of sexually abusing children

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Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Michael Worrell

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The recent arrest of a fourth grade teacher on child sex abuse charges is once again raising questions about how to protect students from potential predators.

Michael Worrell is the fourth teacher in Duval County to be arrested in less than two years who's accused of having sex with children.

To protect students from potential predators, the school district recently tightened restrictions on teachers.

"We've been updating our policies and procedures over the past six months or so, and then certaintly following some incidents that have taken place with some teachers in regards to disciplinary actions and the way we move forward to those," Duval County Public Schools spokeswoman Jill Johnson said.

The new process encourages closer communication with police. The school district thinks the tougher rules helped remove Worrell from the classroom.

On Tuesday, police arrested Worrell on child sex charges involving three victims younger than 13, accusations his wife doesn't believe are true.

"He said he would fight. He will fight, he's innocent, that's all," Alma Worrell said Wednesday.

Michael Worrell's personnel file came up clean. Checking a teacher's history is something any parent can do by requesting a public record.

But Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said it's not always the best indication of how a teacher may behave.

"That's just a background check. That just says that there's nothing in his background that would indicate he would be a threat," Jefferson said.

Jefferson suggests teaching child about appropriate touching. The school district continues to work on preventative measures.

"If anyone is under investigation, not necessarily if they've been arrested, but even prior to that if they're under investigation that we might not want them in our schools for, and that's what happened in this most recent case," Johnson said.

The superintendent has recommended Worrell be suspended without pay pending termination.

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