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High school defends hiring teacher who had previous license revoked over porn usage

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IDAHO FALLS – Some parents of children attending Bonneville High School are concerned after learning a teacher was previously let go from a school in Oregon and had his teaching license revoked.

EastIdahoNews.com received several messages from parents about Cory Hollingsworth, a physical education teacher at Bonneville High School who “committed acts of unprofessional conduct” in a previous job. Discussions on social media this week cited and posted a link to legal documents filed in 2017, leading to a public response from the school.

News reports show Hollingsworth was originally charged with one count of official misconduct for allegedly using a school computer in December 2013 to access pornography. But that charge no longer appears on Hollingsworth’s record, according to Oregon’s criminal registry.

Bonneville High School Principal Levi Owen released a statement on Thursday to students who are enrolled in Hollingsworth’s classes, stating that the school has been made aware of the allegations and sees no reason to remove him from his position.

“Over the past several days, reports have been circulated on social media and other channels reporting serious allegations of misconduct by Cory Hollingsworth, a new teacher and coach at Bonneville High School,” Owen said in the statement. “As happens in these situations, there is an element of truth to these allegations, but there is also much information that is only rumor, speculation or completely false.”

EastIdahoNews.com reached out to Bonneville Joint School District 93 for additional comment and was told the district cannot release any more information as the situation involves an employee.

The allegations against Hollingsworth are detailed in documents filed by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission for Oregon. Those documents say Hollingsworth “used school district equipment to search for and view internet pornography.”

An investigation by the commission found that he had been viewing “questionable and disturbing pornographic materials” on school computers and that the browsing history had been intentionally deleted, along with 100,000 files, according to legal documents.

Due to the search terms used by Hollingsworth, there were concerns he was searching for child pornography, but ultimately no definitive evidence of illegal pornography use was found by the commission.

Hollingsworth refused to be interviewed by officials during the investigation and surrendered his teaching license in Oregon. His ability to re-apply for an Oregon educator license was also revoked.

A criminal investigation was also launched against Hollingsworth in 2015 when he was charged with official misconduct. In 2016, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor computer crime, documents show. As of 2022, that charge no longer appears on his record, and District 93 officials say it was expunged.

EastIdahoNews.com reached out to Hollingsworth for comment on the charge and did not receive a response. We will update this article if we hear back from him.

Hollingsworth began teaching in Idaho in 2014, where he was employed in West Jefferson School District 253, and he transferred to the American Falls School District 381 in 2018.

In October 2018, after conducting a background check for Hollingsworth when he applied for a position with the American Falls School District, the Idaho State Department of Education became aware of the Oregon order and the allegations of previous misconduct.

Because of this new information, the Professional Standards Commission of the State of Idaho held a hearing to decide whether Hollingsworth would be allowed to have a teaching license in Idaho.

In the documents submitted by the Professional Standards Commission of the State of Idaho, Hollingsworth is said to have “omitted his time spent in Oregon as an educator and only identified his educator experience as limited to Idaho” during his time interviewing to work in the American Falls School District.

The hearing concluded that Hollingsworth was allowed to have a teaching license in Idaho.

The statement from Bonneville High School said after the Idaho hearing, the board approved his ability to teach in Idaho. But it also issued a letter of reprimand and ordered him to complete a “NASDTEC (National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification) Prevention and Correction ethics course.”

Hollingsworth accepted the position at the American Falls School District but later took a job at Bonneville High School in 2022.

“Because the Professional Standards Commission did not revoke his teaching certificate, he is eligible to continue to teach in Idaho, and not considering him as a candidate for a teaching position could constitute discrimination,” Owen said in a letter to students and parents.

The principal said Hollingsworth fully disclosed his previous misconduct the time of his interview with Bonneville High School.

“This was of course a serious concern for me and not something that I considered lightly,” Owen said. “However, when I balanced this one-time conduct against Mr. Hollingsworth’s overall performance as an educator for more than 30 years, with the exceptionally positive recommendations from his previous school district, I determined that he was the most qualified applicant for this position.”

Owen wrote in his letter that if parents are uncomfortable having their children in one of Hollingsworth’s classes, they can call the school and ask that their child be transferred to another teacher.

“I hope that you will know that I would not have offered Mr. Hollingsworth employment at Bonneville if I believed that children would be unsafe in his classroom,” Owen said. “Mr. Hollingsworth is also very aware of the rumors that are currently circulating and is committed to doing everything he can to model exemplary professional conduct.”

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