An East Texas elementary school counselor, arrested late Wednesday, stands accused of sexual misconduct with a student.
Barbara Lynn Orpineda, a school counselor at Arp Elementary School, was taken into police custody and booked into the Smith County jail on two counts of sexual assault of a child plus two counts of an improper relationship between an educator and a student, according to county records. Each charge is a second degree felony that carries a $50,000 bond, resulting in Orpineda’s total $200,000 bail. She since bonded out of jail.
The Arp Independent School District placed Orpineda, 31, on administrative leave while officials conducted an investigation into the allegations, which they reported to local police, according to KLTV.
Arp ISD Superintendent Dwight Thomas released a statement indicating that district officials received complaints against the counselor on October 11. He said that the high school’s principal Shannon Arrington contacted him around 4:15 p.m. about the allegations made about Orpineda’s alleged inappropriate behavior. Thomas stated that the charges stemmed from two parents and a student who accused Orpineda of wrongdoing.
He wrote: “I instructed Mr. Arrington to get a statement from these three as well as from any others who may have been witnesses to the allegations.”
Thomas added that, after speaking with the principal, he contacted the school district’s lawyer, John Hardy, and the school board president to discuss how to handle the allegations, open an internal investigation, and report them to Arp’s law enforcement. He recalled that at around 4:45 p.m. he texted “the employee in question” that he and Arrington needed to meet with her at 8:00 a.m. the next morning.
On the morning of October 12th, Mr. Arrington provided me with handwritten statements from the parents, students who made the allegations, and from two student witnesses who had heard about the allegations. This information was collected and I made a report to Child Protective Services. After this, I prepared a report to the State Board of Educator Certifications in care of the Investigations department. On this afternoon I visited with the Arp Police Department, they sent out officers the next day to begin their investigations.
Orpineda’s records with the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) show the allegations are “under review” by the Educator Investigations (EI) unit, the division of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that examines reported accusations of educator-student sexual misconduct. According to the agency, Orpineda holds a school counselor credential for the early childhood level through grade 12, and is certificated to teach grades four through eight.
The superintendent stated they placed Orpineda on administrative leave pending the findings of an ongoing investigation which precluded him from commenting further on the matter. Thus, for now, the details in the case remain unknown.
Arp police later confirmed the events described by Thomas, noting Child Protective Services later contacted them. In a statement, the department commented: “After extensive investigation by the Arp Police Department, in conjunction with Detectives from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Child Advocacy Center of Smith County, it was determined that there was probable cause to believe the allegations were true.”
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