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Palm Coast Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 6 months ago

How was Corey Hodges hired as a sub at Flagler Schools after drug and sex arrests?

Hodges entered a diversion program after the drug arrest, and he was found not guilty of the sex charge.
by: Ray Boone Contributing Writer

He was arrested in 2007 for marijuana charges. He was arrested in 2012 for allegedly molesting a teenage girl. So how was Corey Hodges hired in 2018 as a substitute teacher at Flagler Schools? As recently as October 2019, he was an active substitute teacher at both Indian Trails Middle School and at Bunnell Elementary.

“I will be looking into it,” Flagler County School Board member Maria Barbosa said. “We don’t have all the information or all the details yet.”

The Palm Coast Observer recently obtained the personnel file of Hodges, a 41-year-old Palm Coast resident. The file details his past career as a correctional officer at Tomoka Correctional Institution and his subsequent firing from the facility. It details his attempt to be granted a Florida Educator’s Certificate by the Florida Department of Education. It shows that he received a masters degree from Liberty University and had aspirations of coaching. He was also active with the Police Athletic League teams.

The personnel file does not include any mention of the 2012 arrest for the molestation charge. He was found not guilty of the charge in Volusia County.

As of Nov. 1, a staff member at Indian Trails Middle School told the Observer that Hodges was no longer on the substitute teaching list for the school, but the school provided no explanation why. School Board attorney Kristy Gavin was emailed three times over the course of a week to ask the same question, but she did not respond to the emails.

As of Nov. 5, a staff member at Bunnell Elementary said Hodges was still on the substitute list.

Hodges was cleared to work by Flagler County Schools’ Human Resources Department on Nov. 28, 2018, after he passed a background check, according to his personnel file.

Hodges was granted his Florida Educator’s Certificate on March 26, 2010, after a lengthy battle with the Department of Education, which initially denied his application — which was submitted on Sept. 26, 2008 — on the basis that he responded “No” to the following application question: “Have you ever been convicted of, found guilty, had adjudication withheld, entered a pretrial diversion program, or pled guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to a criminal offense other than a minor traffic violation?”

Hodges was a certified correctional officer at Tomoka for four years. However, he was arrested on Sept. 23, 2007, and was charged with possession of cannabis and with introducing a controlled substance into the state prison.

The charges were dropped on Oct. 8, 2007, because he participated in a pretrial diversion program.

The Department of Education gave notice of its intent to deny Hodges’ application on March 30, 2009.

“The DoE is authorized to deny any applicant a certificate if it possesses evidence satisfactory to it that the applicant has committed an act or acts or that a situation exists for which the Education Practices Commission would be authorized to revoke a teaching certificate,” Commissioner of Education Eric Smith wrote in the notice.

Hodges, who was applying for the certificate so he could coach high school basketball, filed an Election of Rights form with the Department of Education on April 24, 2009, and the Teacher Panel of Education Practices Commission gave a final order on March 26, 2010, that Hodges’ Florida Educator’s Certificate be granted to him.

All of this was in Hodges’ personnel file. What was not in his file, however, was an arrest that occurred nearly two years after he was granted his certificate.

Hodges, 34 at the time, was a child specialist at Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare in 2012. However, he was fired after allegations that he molested a teenage client surfaced early that August. While no other criminal offenses were found, other teenage girls at the program said “Hodges was a pervert who would stare at their bodies, make inappropriate sexual comments and purposely drop things so that he could watch them bend over to pick them up,” according to a report by the Observer after his arrest. One of the teens said Hodges touched her breasts under her shirt and kissed her on the lips.

Investigators with the Sheriff’s Office’s Sex Crimes Unit interviewed other teenage girls at the program. An 18-year-old girl said Hodges told her that she should be a stripper because she had a nice body. And a 14-year-old girl said that while she was going through heroin withdrawal, Hodges ordered her to get out of her bed even though she told him she was naked. She got up and tried to cover herself with a blanket, but she said that Hodges ordered her to drop it.

In addition, surveillance video from inside the facility showed Hodges going into one of the girls’ rooms, in violation of staff policies. He also violated the facility’s policies when he drove the girl to the hospital instead of having a female employee do it.

Hodges denied the allegations but faced one charge each of lewd or lascivious molestation and lewd or lascivious conduct, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

He was arrested on Aug. 28 by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach — but was found not guilty.

Attempts to reach Corey Hodges were unsuccessful.

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