Security officer placed on leave after alleged misconduct with student

Former student said she was also involved with the school employee when she attended Decatur High School.

Editor’s note: This article previously included an incorrect staff title. The article has been updated to identify the employee as a school security officer. The Mirror strives for accuracy and regrets the error.

A security officer at Decatur High School has been placed on leave after reports of alleged misconduct with a student.

On Jan. 27, allegations of misconduct involving an adult Decatur High School staff member were reported to Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) staff. The district contacted both the police and Child Protective Services.

“We take allegations like these very seriously and are fully cooperating with law enforcement’s investigation,” said Whitney Chiang, chief of communications and strategy for FWPS.

According to police spokesperson Cmdr. Kurt Schwan, the male employee is not working at the school or near children. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. Schwan said a charging decision will be made after the investigation is complete. A Federal Way police blotter entry and a former student identify the employee as a school security guard.

Information about the alleged misconduct came to light after a former student found out about a second victim, the former student told the Mirror. In a phone call on Feb. 8, the former student said she was also involved with the security officer when she attended Decatur High School. The Mirror confirmed the former student’s identity with the Federal Way Police Department, and has granted the person anonymity for this story because of the nature of the incident.

During her sophomore year in 2019, the former student — who was 15 at the time — said she was going through issues in her home life that resulted in weekly meetings with counselors or often leaving class. She said the security officer caught on to those meetings and the two spent increasing amounts of time together.

“I was very vulnerable. I was looking for, I guess you could say, a fatherly love figure. Just someone to help me … unfortunately, it was him that was that person,” she said of the security officer.

The former student said the security officer helped her with school work and they talked about her home or school life, but later he allegedly began making comments about her body and legs, and was saying he wanted to have kids with her. She also claimed the employee gave her alcohol and cannabis edibles while she attended the high school.

On the former student’s 16th birthday, she said the security officer asked her to meet him at a nearby park where the two sat in his vehicle and he reportedly gifted her diamond earrings, a watch, a jacket, shoes and a small bottle of alcohol. She said the security officer also gave her a pair of shorts and allegedly asked her to send him a photo of her wearing the shorts.

The former student said he asked for her number and saved it in his phone under a false name. “Because it was just him and I in his car, I was scared so I gave in and gave him my number,” she said. The former student left the school at the end of her sophomore year.

About two years later, she said she went to Decatur to sell the security officer a pair of shoes. The former student, then 18, said the security officer closed both doors to his office and began grabbing her arm and kissing her. She got the money and quickly left, and that was the last time she saw him, she said.

The former student said when she was in school, the security officer made it seem as if he was just helping her. Now, she said, she sees how inappropriate the relationship was.

“For someone to take advantage of a minor, a little girl, is just sickening to me,” she said.

Federal Way Public Schools’ hiring process requires every employee complete and pass a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Washington State Patrol fingerprint and background check, said Chiang of FWPS.

“The safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority in Federal Way Public Schools, and we work diligently to keep our schools safe,” said Chiang.

All staff members are required to take harassment, intimidation and bullying training annually, Chiang said. Every year employees are trained on appropriate staff and student boundaries, and professional conduct policies, she said.

“Student safety is and always will be our number one priority,” Chiang said. “We take every precaution possible to secure the safety of our students.”