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Former Cherry Creek School District bus driver charged with sexual assault | #schoolsaftey

A man who drove school buses for Cherry Creek School District has been charged with felony sexual assault on an at-risk child and two counts of tampering with evidence.

Wayne Lee Smith, a former bus driver and bus assistant for Cherry Creek School District, was arrested on July 6, according to a letter sent to parents last week. The district is required by mandatory reporting laws to inform parents when an employee has been charged with certain felonies.

Smith was fired from his job on Feb 2, immediately after allegations of his misconduct surfaced. The district said it notified the Greenwood Village Police Department of the allegations and has been working with them throughout their investigation.

The district’s letter was sent to families of all students who rode the bus with Wayne Smith going back to his start date back in January 2019.  Smith worked for the district for four years, though it’s unclear whether he drove regular shifts during the pandemic. He drove a special education bus route to West Middle school. It’s unclear if he had other bus routes during his tenure.

The district said no determinations have been made regarding guilt or innocence of Smith.

“As you know, the safety and security of our students and staff is our highest priority. We are committed to keeping you informed about all aspects of your child’s education. We appreciate your partnership in these critical efforts.”

The district couldn’t release information about the student due to federal privacy laws and directed further questions to the Greenwood Village Police Department.

 It said all employees, including bus drivers, go through background checks through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and are fingerprinted.

“We take these matters very seriously,” a district spokesperson said. “As soon as the allegation was reported to us, we immediately contacted the Greenwood Village Police Department and worked with them in their investigation. We also immediately terminated the bus assistant.”

It is not the first criminal incident involving sexual assault in the district in the last five years.

In 2019, a bus driver was sentenced to 90 days in prison after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of a child.  Christopher Doughty, 34, who had been with the district since 2017, used the Whisper messaging app to lure someone he thought was a 14-year old girl to meet him for sex, according to news reports.

The person he thought he was meeting was actually a Lakewood Police Department detective who took Doughty into custody. He was fired from the district. The district said at the time that his arrest was not connected to CCSD or his role as a bus driver for the district.

Earlier this year, a former Cherry Creek High School softball coach was sentenced to 10 years of probation for soliciting explicit material from a teenage girl in another state. She later took her own life. Paul Severtson, 38, was active on the social media messaging app Kik, according to the Aurora Sentinel. Severtson also worked as a paraprofessional at Cherry Creek High School, West Middle School and the district’s online school. In 2018, a former teacher at Prairie Middle School was sentenced to 40 years to life for sexually assaulting or “sexting” with students. The district paid $11.5 million to five students who Brian Vasquez sexually assaulted.

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