Top teacher quits amid GBI inquiry

Morris News Service
Pirkle

THOMSON --- One of McDuffie County's top teachers has resigned amid an ongoing probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

School board officials are expected to accept Philip Bradley Pirkle's resignation at today's meeting. He left his teaching duties at both Thomson Middle School and Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School on Friday, according to McDuffie County School Superintendent Jim LeBrun.

Mr. Pirkle, who was Thomson Middle School's Teacher of the Year last year, is accused of improperly communicating with a 14-year-old girl through a social networking Internet site this summer, McDuffie County Superior Court records, an affidavit and a GBI application for a search warrant reveal.

Mr. Pirkle has not been criminally charged. Repeated attempts to reach him for comment have been unsuccessful.

"No one has been determined to be guilty of any charges at this time, but given my understanding of where they are in the case, the best thing that could have happened would be for him to no longer be employed with us," Mr. LeBrun said.

The investigation began July 15 -- two days after the girl's mother informed the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department of the messages.

The girl was interviewed by the GBI agent on July 16. She described her relationship with the teacher as a friendship. Mr. Pirkle, who has taught school for several years, had the girl in his band class when she was in sixth grade.