Originally created 09/23/04

Band director cleared of sexual harassment charge



AIKEN - Midland Valley High School music teacher and band director David Hastings is back on the job, reinstated earlier this week after Aiken County school officials investigated a female student's sexual harassment complaint, then cleared him of any wrongdoing, the county's top educator said Wednesday.

Mr. Hastings, who was suspended with pay for a week, was reinstated Monday after an investigation by school officials turned up no evidence to support the claim, Aiken County School Superintendent Linda Eldridge said.

Police were not involved in the case, she said.

A female member of the school's color guard filed the complaint shortly after Mr. Hastings ordered T-shirts for band members and twice asked for her size, he said.

"I was shocked more than anything," said Mr. Hastings, in his fifth year as band director. "This whole thing was part of a misunderstanding."

Assistant Superintendent Troy Nobles and Midland Valley High Principal Margaret Mullen would not comment on the incident.

Mr. Hastings said he simply wants to get past the week of frustration and get back to teaching students and preparing the marching band for upcoming competitions.

The student who made the allegations is still enrolled at Midland Valley High and is a member of his chorus class, Mr. Hastings said. He laments the lost time, noting it has put the band behind schedule.

"I said in my hearing that it's really the students who are losing because of this," Mr. Hastings said.

"All this is doing is detracting from my job and we're having to play catch up."

While Mr. Hastings was put on leave, the Midland Valley High School Marching Band lost a week's worth of drills and practices that Mr. Hastings said the band needed to defend its 2003 Lower State Championship title.

"But we can't fret on things and can't control things that are out of our hands," Mr. Hastings said of his experience. "We just have to keep a positive attitude."

Reach Karen Ethridge at (803) 648-1395, ext. 109, or karen.ethridge@augustachronicle.com.