The S.C. State Board of Education has taken action against a teacher and coach accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student in the coach’s office of a female locker room.
On Monday, Del-Gratia Jones, chair of the S.C. Board of Education, temporarily suspended Artis Coulter’s educator certificate, known as a “teacher’s certificate.”
Coulter, 36, who was working as a teacher at Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5’s Technology Center and as athletic director at Bethune-Bowman High School, is on paid administrative leave after the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office charged him with sexual battery with a student 16 or 17 years of age with no aggravated force or coercion. Coulter's attorney has said the educator is not guilty of the charge.
In the three-page order, Jones explains the state school board requested Coulter’s educator certificate to be “summarily suspended” until a due process hearing is held or until it’s resolved otherwise.
The order states the S.C. Board of Education “has reason to believe that, due to the serious nature of these allegations of misconduct, Mr. Coulter may pose a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of students, who may be under his instruction and that emergency action is required.”
It states further that his educator certificate may be revoked.
According to the order, Coulter holds a professional South Carolina educator certificate and has over seven years of educator experience.
At the time of Coulter’s arrest, OCSD5 spokesman Bill Clark stated Coulter was a teacher at the district’s Technology Center and also has coached and served as athletic director at Bethune-Bowman High since the 2014-15 school year.
Coulter was also the head basketball coach at Bethune-Bowman.
OCSO investigators say they have evidence supporting the allegations.
A warrant alleges Coulter engaged in “sexual battery with the 16-year-old victim multiple times between March 14, 2019 and March 21, 2019” at Bowman-Bethune High in Rowesville.
After Coulter’s bond hearing on April 2, Sheriff Leroy Ravenell said, “At no time is it appropriate for a person of authority to have any type of contact such as this with a student.”
Coulter’s attorney, Bakari Sellers, said his client is completely innocent.
“Artis Coulter is pleading not guilty to this matter. We’re going to fight this vigorously. One of the first things we’re going to do today is file a speedy trial motion so we can get this matter resolved sooner rather than later,” Sellers said after Coulter’s bond hearing.
Sellers said he and Coulter were classmates at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School and he believes in his client’s innocence.
Sellers also claims the 16-year-old victim has made similar allegations “in general” in the past.
Shane M. Burroughs, an attorney for the 16-year-old, said, “The most vulnerable people in society are our children. When parents send their children to school, they expect them to be provided a safe learning environment, free from harm, and in this instance, from sexual assault by an adult in a position of authority.
“Taking advantage of any child, especially on multiple occasions, is despicable, and we look forward to obtaining justice for the victim in this case and preventing this from happening to any other students in our community.”
Shortly after his bond hearing on April 2, Coulter posted his $10,000 bond.
If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $1,000.