Substitute tried for sex contact, authorities say
By MIKE BRASSFIELD
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 2, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- With the constant demand for substitute teachers, Kevin King had no trouble getting into the classroom. He had free time, a two-year junior-college degree and no criminal record.
King subbed nearly 60 times at eight Pinellas County schools over the past five months.
Then, a vigilant mother happened to check her 14-year-old daughter's e-mail.
Police say she found a sexual proposition -- from King.
King, 22, was arrested Wednesday night and fired Thursday.
Investigators say he recently sent e-mails or instant Internet messages to two female students, ages 14 and 15, trying to get them to skip school and drink beer with him. Police say King also asked the 14-year-old to perform a sex act on him.
"Neither of the girls actually went with him," said St. Petersburg police Detective Lorry Dunn. She said King asked the girls at school for their home e-mail addresses.
Police are trying to determine whether King approached any other girls.
King of 6375 23rd Ave. N is charged with computer solicitation to commit a lewd and lascivious act, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was released from Pinellas County Jail after posting $5,500 bail.
King, who declined to comment Thursday, was hired as a substitute teacher on Aug. 30. His fingerprints were sent to the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He had no criminal record.
"We take the same precautions with subs that we take with any employee," said Pinellas schools spokesman Ron Stone. "There was nothing in his background to indicate that he had the inclination to do anything like this."
The Pinellas County School District has more than 2,000 substitute teachers, but the district has trouble getting them to work enough days to fill all vacancies.
Substitutes must have associate's degrees or at least 60 credit hours of college, and they must pass a background check. In addition to being fingerprinted, job applicants must say whether they have ever been arrested.
Given the poor pay and high stress of their jobs, substitute teachers have long been in short supply in the Tampa Bay area.
But shortages in recent years have been especially severe because of a strong economy, low unemployment and the heavy demand for full-time teachers throughout Florida.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call St. Petersburg police Detective Lorry Dunn at (727) 892-5187.
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