The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 18, 2013

Trap Hill teacher fired by BOE for alleged sexual text messages

13-year-old boy’s attorney reported female teacher; police, CPS continue probe

By Jessica Farrish
Register-Herald Reporter

BECKLEY — The Raleigh County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday morning to fire a Trap Hill Middle School teacher accused of sending inappropriate texts to her student.

Lori Lester, the teacher, did not attend the meeting, which she had requested prior to last Tuesday’s regular BOE meeting.

She was represented at Monday’s meeting by her attorney, Jay Barringer.

Kathy Martin, a representative of the West Virginia Education Association, also attended the meeting.

BOE members and Raleigh Schools Superintendent Jim Brown had gone into executive session to hear evidence in the matter, then opened the meeting to the public when the board voted on Brown’s motion to fire Lester.

Barringer and Martin both refused to comment on the case.

“The investigation is continuing with the West Virginia State Police and Child Protective Services,” BOE President Richard Snuffer said. “Her contract with the Raleigh County Board of Education has been terminated.”

 Charleston attorney Brett Preston had accused Lester of sending inappropriate and sexually explicit text messages to Preston’s client, Lester’s 13-year-old student at Trap Hill Middle, in February and March.

The male student’s parents took him out of the school following the texts and home-schooled him for the remainder of his eighth-grade year.

The student’s mother worked as a secretary for the school system at the time the alleged texts were sent, according to Preston.

Preston said Monday that he had turned over to Brown all results of his firm’s private investigation into the matter.

“We’re glad that (Lester has been fired),” Preston said. “We think it should’ve been done sooner, and it’s a shame that it had to become such a media storm before action was taken.”

Preston said his firm is also cooperating with State Police.

In several of the alleged texts, a woman appears naked and in lingerie.

The woman’s face is not visible, but a private investigator reported that Lester is identifiable due to a body mark and by a bathroom that appears in the texted pictures.

The background is the same bathroom that appears on her Facebook page, lawyers said.