NC private school will not rehire principal in wake of sex offender scandal

Joan Dayton (WNCN)

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A Fayetteville private school principal will not return to her job after school board members voted not to rehire her after she allowed a sex offender to work on campus.

In September, Joan Dayton was sentenced to 11-months probation as part of a plea deal after she allowed a registered sex-offender to work at Freedom Academy.

Dayton told Cumberland County Superior Court Judge James Ammons she was unaware of the law and thought the sex offender, Paul Connor, could work at the school as long as children weren’t on the premises.

She was facing a felony charge of violating the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act.

The terms of Dayton’s probation include 50 hours community service and no dealings whatsoever with the school.

The school board met Nov. 10 and voted to not rehire Dayton.

Conner, 50, of Mosswood Lane in Fayetteville, was arrested May 28 and charged with three counts of violating the state sex offender registration act by being on school property at Freedom Christian Academy, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Conner was also charged with one count of conspiring with Dayton and others to violate the sex offender registration act.

Jewell Talmadge, a Freedom Christian Academy parent said, “I know she’s an awesome administrator and she loves the school and she loves everyone in it.”

Although Dayton garnered various support from parents, there are others who still believe she made a bad judgement call.

Cindee Harrington is a former teacher at the private school and both of her sons attended class there.

Following the board’s decision not to rehire Dayton, Harrington pulled her sons out.
“I knew with Joan’s leadership, it was not going to be the same without her there. There was no way. That school was built because of her,” Dayton said.

In a statement, school board Chairman Charlie Bedsole said:

“We believe she was instrumental in creating a strong foundation for our school and we seek to continue to honor what she helped start.”

Dayton declined an interview with WNCN but said she’ll certainly be sharing her side of the story once her probation sentence is over.

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