New law gives Oklahoma Department of Education power to protect students, schools from predators

Posted at 2:38 PM, Nov 03, 2016

Her grandmother's hand is all the support Gracee Drywater has.

"I was really afraid," Gracee Drywater said. "I didn't want to get out, I didn't want to do anything."

She was just 13-years-old, a lifetime ago, when Gracee says a Porter teacher changed her life. It still brings her to tears.

"It was embarrassing," Drywater said.

Almost exactly three years ago, the popular, outgoing cheerleader attracted the attention of Johnny Lynn Scott, her computer science teacher.

"He would always come and sit down right next to me and grab my legs and he would always put his hands in my shirt and stuff like that," she said. "He would just like rub up against me like every day."

Gracee remembers one day vividly. She says she was helping set up for the fall carnival in Porter.

"He would whisper in my ear, 'You look good in your cheerleading skirt and your butt looks good in your skirt,'" she said. "He handed me his phone and it had a picture of a penis on there."

Gracee did the only thing she thought she knew to do, run.

"When I took off outside, he came up running behind me and was like, 'It's your turn, you need to show me pictures of you now, I did this and now it's your turn,'" Drywater said.

The only picture Scott got to see was his mugshot.

After Gracee told authorities, deputies booked him on charges of lewd molestation and performing a lewd act in the presence of a minor.

"He did plead guilty to lewd molestation and the picture," Gracee's grandmother Annette Panter said.

But Panter wanted more, especially after learning Johnny Scott had been allowed to move from school to school, leaving a trail of sexual allegations.

"He had resigned nine times. Nine times," Panter said.

In a signed statement to the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office, Scott's ex-wife told investigators he was let go from his teaching job in Okmulgee in 2005 due to indiscretions. She also said Scott admitted to having sex with a student in his classroom and another in the parking lot.

"If they would have stopped him and looked into this when he had allegations in Drumright, if Drumright schools would have reported this, I think the school board of education would have stopped him and this would have never happened to my granddaughter," Panter said.

At the same time, Panter was fuming about her granddaughter's case. Oklahoma's new state schools superintendent was hearing from districts that knew about predator teachers on the move, but couldn't warn others.

"When I realized there was a hurdle there, where districts could not talk to us about their suspicion, or even evidence that they had, I was very interested in seeing what we could do to solve this," State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hoffmeister said.

One of Hoffmeister's major accomplishments was passage of Senate Bill 711 in June of last year. It created a public database for the official records of educators' certification status.

"We can suspend their license which would mean that they cannot be employed somewhere else in a school district in another state or in our state where they may be unaware of the danger," Hoffmeister said.

When you type in Johnny Scott, the state database shows his certificate is "expired."

All Oklahoma teachers are required to pass criminal background checks, so Scott will never again be allowed to teach in Oklahoma.

"I don't want to hear about Johnny Scott and another victim," Panter said. "I don't want to hear about it."

Panter says the bill is a good start, but too late for her granddaughter, whose teacher taught her some of life's hardest lessons.

"How does he know that he's wrong you know?," Drywater asked. "Because no one has stopped him."

Scott pled guilty to performing lewd acts in the presence of a minor in exchange for dismissing the lewd molestation case. Gracee and her family were disappointed to learn in August that the district attorney amended the charge to "indecent exposure," which reduces the amount of time Scott is required to register as a sex offender.

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