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Muscogee County educator arrested on charge of child molestation

A Muscogee County School District educator has been charged with one count of child molestation and one count of sodomy for alleged sexual conduct with students in another school system.

Phillip Burns, 28, an academic coach at Wesley Heights Elementary School, was arrested Wednesday at the Muscogee County School District headquarters after being called into the human resources department, Dougherty County School System Police Chief Troy Conley said Friday. A deputy from the Muscogee County Sheriff's Department made the arrest, and Dougherty investigators brought Burns to Albany, where he was charged, Conley said. Burns is being held in the Dougherty County Jail without bond. No court date has been scheduled, Conley said.

The district hired Burns on Sept. 28, said Valerie Fuller, the school district's communications director. She said she can't comment on the case or whether he is suspended other than to say, "He still is an employee because these are just allegations."

Burns was a finalist for the 2012 Teacher of the Year award in Dougherty County. He left his position as a third-grade science teacher at Lamar Reese Magnet School of the Arts in September, according to the Albany Herald.

"The investigation began after we received a complaint from a parent who had concerns about text communication between her son and Mr. Burns," Conley told the Herald. "The son is a high school student. The communication continued after Mr. Burns moved to Columbus. We had more than enough information to secure warrants for his arrest."

The Herald reported that the initial victim and possible others are males of high school age. Conley told the Ledger-Enquirer the charges stem from interviews with three students of high school age in Dougherty County.

He said investigators haven't received any allegations of inappropriate conduct between Burns and any Muscogee County students.

He also praised Muscogee County School District administrators for their cooperation. Officials at Wesley Heights couldn't be reached for comment