Teacher held on child porn charges also a foster parent

Teacher held on child porn charges also a foster parent

COLUMBIANA, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama kindergarten teacher jailed on child pornography charges had been approved by the state to provide therapeutic foster care, authorities said Thursday.

Daniel Prentice Donaldson, 26, of Montevallo, received the foster care certification in June through the United Methodist Children’s Home, which acts as a contractor to provide care for the state, said Barry Spear, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

Spear cited confidentiality laws in declining comment on whether Donaldson was caring for a 9-year-old boy who authorities described as being with the man at the time of his arrest at his home on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the United Methodist Children’s Home said in a statement Thursday that Donaldson had met all DHR training and licensing requirements prior to being licensed by UMCH.

“Since 1890, UMCH has been dedicated to the highest standards in caring for vulnerable children, and will fully cooperate with all law enforcement in the investigation of Mr. Donaldson,” said Rebecca Morris, the group’s vice president of external affairs.

The church-affiliated organization recruits and trains foster parents under its license, Spear said.
Donaldson, who taught at Calera Elementary School, was jailed with bail set at $600,000 on 40 counts of possession of child pornography. Court records don’t show whether he has a defense lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

Maj. Ken Burchfield, a spokesman with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, said an investigation began with a tip. He said there was no evidence Calera students were victims in the child pornography cases.
Donaldson has worked for Shelby County schools since 2015, when he began the first of two years as an aide under the guidance of a classroom teacher. He was beginning his second school year as a kindergarten teacher at the time of his arrest.

Donaldson passed a criminal background check and has had no prior incidents of misconduct, officials said.
“These charges are very serious in that they indicated alarming behavior by this teacher,” said Shelby County Superintendent Randy Fuller.