By Ben Lane, TSB Staff
“Surprising. Disturbing. Disconcerting.”
Those are the words MISD Chief Communications Officer Cody Cunningham used to describe his thoughts upon learning of the arrest of former Evans Middle School Assistant Band Director Marcus Hunley.
Hunley was arrested on Jan. 29 on a charge of indecency with a child —exposure. The charge stems from Hunley’s time as band director at Clark High School in Plano. According to police, Hunley is accused of sending explicit photos to a 16-year old student in 2007.
The woman, who was a student of Hunley’s at the time, approached Plano police in December and Hunley was arrested in late January after an investigation. Cunningham says that MISD partnered closely with Plano police in the investigation of Hunley.
Upon learning of Hunley’s arrest, Cunningham said MISD acted quickly in banishing Hunley from MISD property and ensuring that he would no longer have any contact with any MISD student. “There was no question he was not going to return to a campus — not after the nature of the investigation and the arrest,” he added.
Being placed on administrative leave immediately is normally the procedure for any MISD staff member that has been arrested for any reason. This allows for time for the district to conduct its own investigation. In this case, Hunley immediately resigned.
“The most important thing is that when we have a situation like this, we move quickly and work with law enforcement to remedy the situation. Immediately when we learned of this situation, we worked with the Plano police department and he (Hunley) no longer stepped foot on our property again,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said MISD was not aware of any issues in Hunley’s past when they hired him in 2008 to serve as Associate Band Director at McKinney High School.
“We have an extensive system for background checks. We perform national and state background checks on all of our employees every year as well as prior to their hiring. It’s expensive but we feel it’s worth it,” Cunningham said. Because these charges were filed in December, it would not have shown up on any background check performed at the time of Hunley’s hiring.
On Thursday, MISD sent letters to the parents of band members at both Clark and McKinney High whose children had contact with Hunley. The letter encouraged parents to talk to their children and contact the McKinney police if they have any suspicions of inappropriate contact with Hunley. You can view the entire letter below.
Cunningham expressed his concern and frustration due to the shocking nature of these allegations. “Anybody who is in this business becomes very angry when something like this happens because it gives a bad name to teachers and I think that’s something that needs to be said,” Cunningham said. “I think we always need to remind ourselves about the other great teachers that are out there looking out for kids.
“This is not acceptable in McKinney ISD and shouldn’t be accepted by any school district. We view these children as our own and we take responsibility for them when they are attending school here.”
Cunningham shares the concern of many of the parents in the district. “Many of our staff have children. As an employee of the district, we’re not only administrators and teachers. We’re also parents ourselves and this is something that we simply won’t tolerate,” he said. “And I think that goes for our neighboring districts. This is not something that happens on a routine basis. There are rare cases where you hire someone who doesn’t have the same moral principles as the rest of the staff. It’s very unfortunate.”
There doesn’t appear to be any evidence of Hunley acting inappropriately with any students in McKinney. “Based on all the information we have; they (the Plano police) feel like this is an isolated incident. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a precautionary measure and let parents know they have a resource to reach out,” Cunningham said.
According to Cunningham, the students and staff at Evans have moved past this situation and are operating normally. “In talking with the staff and students at the school, they have handled the situation very well. They have a very strong band director at Evans,” Cunningham said. “It is certainly a surprise to them but they have done a great job of focusing on school and moving forward. They have great role models and mentors at Evans.”