Livingston teacher fired after Investigative Unit report on sexual harassment at previous job
UPDATE: The Livingston Parish school system confirmed Thursday that Edwin Elsey has been fired.
School officials released the following statement.
"Livingston Parish Public Schools has found sufficient evidence to warrant the termination of choir instructor Dr. Edwin Elsey.
Dr. Elsey is currently on administrative leave from his teaching position with Doyle High School and Walker Freshman High School.
Dr. Elsey has been employed by the district since July 31, 2018.
Superintendent Joe Murphy has directed the district to immediately conduct a comprehensive review of its human resources hiring policies, procedures and practices."
LIVINGSTON- The choir director at Doyle and Walker High Schools was placed on administrative leave Wednesday afternoon pending a human resources investigation.
The move by the Livingston Parish School System comes after the WBRZ Investigative Unit asked Wednesday morning about Eddie Elsey, Jr.'s prior termination for sexual harassment at the University of North Alabama.
"Once someone has committed an offense like that and they are rehired, that raises concern," said Rachael Hebert, Executive Director of Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR). "Is the school watching him? Is the school going to be aware of this incident again? Will they be liable since they did become aware of it before they hired him?"
According to the student newspaper, The Flor-Ala, Elsey was fired in 2016 for sexual harassment. The paper reports, "Elsey was a music instructor at the University since August 2002, and this was not his first offense according to university records."
In a response to his termination, Elsey wrote a lengthy rebuttal saying he sent a Facebook message to a student that he shouldn't have. He called those actions "clearly wrong." At the time, he said the message was not sexual in nature and he never touched the student. Elsey also wrote that he spent six months working on personal issues to make better decisions in all aspects of his life.
WBRZ reached out to Elsey Wednesday and asked for an interview about whether he made Livingston Parish School administrators aware of what happened at his prior job before getting hired in Livingston.
"I would be willing to discuss certain aspects of what happened and I did disclose that I sent an inappropriate letter to a student that was not under my supervision," Elsey responded.
Hebert said it's astounding that Elsey was hired following his termination for sexual harassment.
"Schools have a duty to protect students, and when they get the knowledge that this has happened before and there is a potential predator, they need to be careful and take calculated measures to ensure the safety of students," Hebert said.
Hebert said Elsey's hiring raises even more questions about the decision-making that went into that process.
"We are big on giving people second chances, but it's proven time and time again that people will recommit sexual offenses," Hebert said. "We need to take that into consideration when it comes to people working with minors."
Livingston Parish Schools would not say how long Elsey would remain on leave or how long their HR investigation would take.