The assistant principal of Holmes County Central High School was arrested Friday and charged with statutory rape of a student at his home in Greenwood.
Dyana Terrelle Thomas, 49, 14 Sunset Circle, was still being held Monday at the Leflore County Jail.
Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks said investigators found Thomas had sex at his home with an underage female student in her teens. The age of consent in Mississippi is 16.
The Holmes County Consolidated School District wouldn’t comment on Thomas’ status with the school since his arrest, saying only that all information has been given to authorities.
The district also wouldn’t comment on Thomas’ criminal history while he worked for school districts in Alabama.
Superintendent James Henderson was adamant that the Holmes County district does background checks on all employees before hiring them, as required by state law. But Henderson also said Thomas would have been hired to his position before Henderson started as district superintendent last summer.
If a background check had been done, the Holmes County district would have found that Thomas had been a principal at four high schools in Alabama and twice had been found guilty of the misuse of school funds for personal gain.
In 2007, Thomas was sentenced to five years of probation on federal charges of mail fraud, according to the Alabama news website al.com. Thomas admitted that he set up professional development seminars for faculty members at Choctaw County High School in the summer of 2005 while he was the principal there. He submitted forms to the school system to pay people who were not connected to the seminars.
The school system sent checks to two of them.
In a third case, Thomas admitted that he retrieved a check for a bogus instructor and hand-delivered it to him. The plea agreement states that the man, a Mobile barber, cashed the check and gave some of the money to Thomas, according to al.com.
At that time, he was also a school board member in Sumter County, Alabama, and lost that position after his conviction. He faced impeachment in that district, but it’s not clear if he was removed or resigned the seat.
In August of last year, he pleaded guilty to two charges of third-degree criminal mischief and harassing communications while principal at Greensboro High School in Hale County, Alabama. The charges, which date back to an investigation started in 2014, include taking multiple kickbacks from individuals whom Thomas had arranged to work at school functions.
Al.com reported that Thomas received a 90-day suspended jail sentence and a 30-day suspended jail sentence to run concurrently with each other. He also was placed on probation for one year.
On top of those two cases, in 2012 Thomas was fined $1,000 by the Alabama Ethics Commission regarding misuse of funds while he was principal at Wilcox Central High School.
The Mississippi Department of Education says state law requires background checks of all school district employees but leaves it to the individual school districts to actually do the checks.
In Thomas’ case, a check of the internet by typing his name into a search engine such as Google shows all of the instances of the crimes at Alabama schools.
According to Mississippi statutes, if the offender is over age 21 and the victim is age 14 or 15, statutory rape and sexual battery are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
•Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or email@example.com.