Virginia Beach, Va. - "Our job as parents is to protect our children from the monsters out there in the world," says the mother of the 15-year-old boy at the center of the Patience Perez sex scandal.
The mother thought Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach would be the road to redemption for her son. He has had some academic struggles, and has been treated for depression. The school's programs for troubled kids seemed ideal, but his mother said his relationship with school security guard Patience Perez set him back.
"She threw my son over the edge," the mother said.
Police say Perez and the boy met at the school, but their sexual encounters took place at her home in the Ocean View area of Norfolk. His mother said it's hard for her to believe that nothing happened at the school.
"It had to start somewhere," said the mother, whose name NewsChannel 3 has chosen to withhold. "What kind of conversations were they having in the building?"
Court records said Perez admitted to sleeping with the boy and smoking marijuana with him. Court documents also said she would routinely pick the boy up from school and take him to her home. His mother said she was usually at work when this happened, but she said school officials should have noticed something was brewing between her son and the married mother of two small children.
"They weren't paying attention, at all," she said.
The affair unraveled only after mom was running late for work one morning. She saw a car she didn't recognize in her driveway.
"I knocked on her car window. I said who are you? She's was like, I'm such and such. I go to school with [your son]," the mother recounted. "She showed me her license and I took a mental picture of her name and her birthday and then bells and whistles started going off."
The mother said she let her son leave with Perez, thinking she was an older student at Renaissance. However, later that day she got a call from the school that her son was being expelled because he showed up high on marijuana. His mother began digging through his phone.
"That's when we discovered naked pictures," she said. "And the first picture I hit, it was her!"
Court records say there were also Facebook messages where Perez and the boy talked about plans to kill Perez’s husband.
"The school called to check on him, and I told them it's a 22-year-old lusting after my son. Her name is such and such. I miss pronounced the name. The counselor corrected me on the name. She said oh my God she doesn't go here. She works here," the mother said.
School authorities immediately fired Perez. Police charged her with having sex with the boy and using him to plan her husband’s murder. The boy's mother received letters from the school offering to reverse their decision to expel him.
"The principal called me babbling, talking about what could I have done better? You could have been more vigilant," said the mother. "You think after all this I’m going to send my son back to Virginia Beach public school? No! You all have failed him!"
The mother said the boy is now being home schooled.
Virginia Beach Public Schools Spokesperson Kathleen O'Hara provided this response to NewsChannel 3's questions. NewsChannel 3 has chosen to omit the student's name.
- How could no teachers or staff members know about the relationship, especially since [the student] would ride home with Perez on a daily basis and apparently the relationship was discussed in the lunchroom?
As soon as staff became aware that Ms. Perez had contact with [the student] outside of school, the principal asked Human Resources staff to begin termination of her employment. There was no hesitation whatsoever on the part of school administration to take action once they became aware of this temporary employee's inappropriate contact with this student. No staff member or student ever reported to administration that such a relationship existed and certainly nobody made school administration aware of conversations about an inappropriate relationship.
If they had, the school’s leadership would have taken action immediately. Certainly, if another staff member had first-hand knowledge of the inappropriate relationship and did not report it, appropriate disciplinary measures would be taken with regard to that employee. On the other hand, if such conversations took place among students, staff would not necessarily be aware of such dialogue. As you may know, it would be impossible to monitor the private conversations of every student in a busy cafeteria.
- What measures are in place to keep this from happening again?
There are many measures in place to keep such instances from happening. There are security cameras throughout Renaissance Academy (as in all school buildings) and on the exterior of the building as well. Security staff members at every school in the division undergo extensive training on managing student behavior and appropriate responses to student behaviors. Students are made aware that if they need assistance, there are responsible adults there to help them. Besides their teachers and the school’s administration this would include guidance counselors, clinical psychologists, student support specialists and school social workers.
- What was the background check process, and will it be changed since this has happened?
I answered this question in an earlier email, sending you the link to our policy on background checks. Please note that Ms. Perez did undergo a background check as part of the standard VBCPS hiring process. There was nothing on her record to indicate she would be a risk to students. If there had been, she wouldn’t have been hired. There are no plans to change the process in place. The regrettable circumstances that took place are not the result of a faulty background check process. They are the result of an adult’s poor judgment that led to illegal and inappropriate activity and, as you know, there is no background check in existence that can identify bad judgment and illegal intent.