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Director of voucher-eligible private school in Raleigh accused of sex with children

vouchers-6-331x219According to ABC 11, the director of a Raleigh-area private school, which is eligible for publicly-funded vouchers from North Carolina, has been charged with having sex with children.

From ABC 11’s report:

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office has charged the 54-year-old director of a Raleigh private school with having sex with children.

According to an arrest warrant, there were two alleged victims, and the crimes happened between 2007 and 2012. Both children were 13.

According to its website, Stevens Prep Academy on Oak Creek Road is solely operated by Dr. Claude Mordecai Stevens.

According to his bio, Stevens was a special education teacher in Wake County Public Schools in the 1980s before founding his private school.

Stevens is charged with eight counts of statutory rape and four counts of indecent liberties with a child.

Bond was set at $500,000 and Stevens was ordered not to have contact with the victims.

At this time, it’s unclear whether the alleged crimes happened at the north Raleigh school or involved Stevens Prep Academy students.

But state records from the N.C. Division of Non-Public Education, which oversees North Carolina’s nearly 750 private schools, show 14 students were enrolled in the Raleigh facility in 2015-2016, which taught grades 6-12.

Stevens is prominently featured on the school’s website, on which he touts the school’s small class sizes and his background in education. According to the site, Stevens has doctorate and master’s degrees in educational counseling,  as well as a bachelor’s degree in pre-law.

State records show the small Wake County school received a small amount of cash—a total of $6,300 over two academic years—from North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, a controversial program that uses public funds to help low-income children attend private schools.

Critics have pointed out the schools may use public dollars despite multiple reports of private schools discriminating against LGBT students and their families. 

Officials in North Carolina have also been criticized for exempting private school teachers, as well as directors like Stevens, from submitting to criminal background checks, despite documented reports of alleged wrongdoing by private school teachers.

Nevertheless, state lawmakers approved a massive expansion of the voucher program in this year’s budget, from $44.8 million in 2016-2017 to $144.8 million by 2027-2028.

This year, while discussing requirements for a statewide background check policy for public school teachers, state lawmakers once again opted against requiring background checks for private school educators.

However, it should be noted that Stevens is not listed in either state or national sex offender registries.

More as it develops.

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