IRSD health teacher arrested on one count of coercion

Date Published: 
February 10, 2017

An Indian River High School health teacher was arrested Wednesday, Jan. 18, for allegedly trying to prevent a meeting between school administrators and another district employee. Delaware State Police arrested Paris D. Mitchell, 41, of Milton, on one count of coercion.

The charge “stemmed from an alleged incident in which Mitchell threatened to reveal information about inappropriate relationships between teachers and students if a meeting was to take place between the school administrators and another employee,” stated Delaware State Police public information officer M.Cpl. Gary Fournier.

In Delaware State Code, coercion is any situation in which a person forces or persuades someone to engage or abstain from certain conduct by “instilling in the victim a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the defendant or another will … expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule.”

Coercion is Class A misdemeanor.

A school official reported the incident to Troop 4 in Georgetown. Mitchell was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 2 in Rehoboth Beach and released on $1,000 unsecured bond, with a no-contact order with the Indian River School District.

“There are currently no active investigations regarding students/teachers,” Fournier wrote.

The IRSD released the following statement: “Paris Mitchell has been placed on unpaid leave by the Indian River School District, pending the outcome of the judicial process. Mr. Mitchell’s claim of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student was investigated by the district and found to be without merit.”

“We have two district investigators on staff now,” added district spokesperson David Maull. “Whenever allegations of anything like that come to us, we investigate it immediately. That’s sort of the general rule, the process. If it involves any kind of sexual misconduct, we refer that to the state police as well.”

Public employees have a right to privacy, so district officials cannot publically discuss an individual’s performance, including further behind-the-scenes details of this alleged incident.

“As a general rule, an employee is placed on unpaid leave if he or she has been charged with a criminal act,” IRSD officials added in a Feb. 1 statement. “In certain instances, it may be necessary to place an employee on leave if he or she is under investigation for suspected wrongdoing. This is generally a paid leave until the employee is either charged with a crime or cleared of any wrongdoing. If the investigation results in the employee being charged with a crime, his or her leave may be converted to unpaid status.”