SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.—The Spokane County Sheriff's Office said early Friday morning that a Trent Elementary substitute would face multiple charges for allegedly assaulting students physically and verbally.
In a press release, the Sheriff's office identified 46-year-old Matthew Deryan as the sixth grade substitute teacher. Officials charged him with three counts of 4th degree assault and three counts of unlawful imprisonment. Officials say he could face more charges.
East Valley School District leaders released a statement Thursday. It stated that a substitute teacher in one of the classrooms put his hands on students and did other inappropriate things. Students told authorities that the teacher smelled like alcohol. They also stated that the teacher verbally assaulted students.
Deryan denied the incident to detectives and said the students made it up because he gave them pink slips.
One of the students said when he walked into class the teacher smelled like alcohol and at one point locked the students inside their classroom.
"I was going up to ask him something and he like put his hands on me and pushed me back," said sixth grader Alex.
Students said Deryan blocked the door and kicked students as they tried to leave.
A female student said she heard Deryan threatening to strike the balls of another student. She also said Deryan then locked the classroom, blocked the door and began swearing in Spanish.
Another student said Deryan screamed a curse word at the students. The student said Deryan smelled like alcohol and his eyes were blood shot.
Students said Deryan grabbed a boy by the arm, squeezed his left arm and threw him into the classroom door.
Deputies said they saw injuries on one student including red marks on the child’s shoulders and fingernail scratches.
The Principal at Trent Elementary sent home a letter to parents. The letter stated that the teacher in question is gone from campus and will not return to any East Valley schools.
Parents wondered how a man with a criminal history ended up in charge of elementary students.
“I was really mad. I just was wondering about the district in general, wondering why a substitute like that who was intoxicated would even get into the school,” said a parent.
School leaders asked parents to have their sixth-graders write their recollections down and bring them to school on Friday morning if they were in the classroom.
A district spokesperson said since this is under investigation, the substitute teacher has not technically been fired yet, but the man will no longer teach at any schools in the district.
Matthew C. Deryan's criminal history includes making a false statement after he reportedly came into the clerk's office and wrote all over a report. Deryan also had a domestic violence protection order taken out against him. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail but the sentence was suspended.
Deryan had also been arrested for DUI in Idaho in the months leading to the alleged school incident.
“Obviously if there was any incident where any child was threatened or really harmed, as this is alleged, yes, he managed to play the system and slip through the cracks. We cannot say there wasn't a hole that he got through,” said East Valley Superintendent John Glenwinkel.
Law requires all new hires at schools who have unsupervised contact with students have a background check done through the Washington State patrol and FBI.
Records show Deryan had that background check and officials said his check came back with no red flags.
“This situation was a horrible situation, but I think we need to look at how often we do the background checks. I think we need to look at if there is a way to do more constant updating,” said Glenwinkel.