Second Burke County Teacher Charged For 'Sexting' - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Second Burke County Teacher Charged For 'Sexting'

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Mug shot of Debra Renae Tanksley (Credit: Burke County Sheriff's Office) Mug shot of Debra Renae Tanksley (Credit: Burke County Sheriff's Office)
Waynesboro, GA - There is trouble for another Burke County teacher after officials say her contact with a student raises eyebrows. 

For the second time in a week, a teacher at Burke County Comprehensive High School has been arrested and accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student. 

This news comes almost a week to the day after another teacher at the school, 25-year-old Ashley Ashe, was arrested and placed on administrative leave on similar charges. 

As Ashe is out of jail after posting bond, 37-year-old Debra Renae Tanksley has been placed behind bars for the same crime. 

WJBF News Channel 6 spoke with people in the community and they shared mixed feelings about the incidents.

Waynesboro resident Ross Maruca, who is a grandfather, said, “I think they should be fired and never should be allowed to teach again.”

Daisy Richards, a mother of an 8th grade student in Burke County, said, “Teachers are in a professional spot as a teacher and they should know their boundaries.  So, as a parent I would be irate if any of that happened with my children.”

Both Maruca and Richards were outraged after learning that Tanksley, the second teacher in a week, has been arrested for sending and receiving inappropriate text messages, pictures, and other forms of communication with two different students.

Kandice Goddard is an alumna of the Burke County High School and said Tanksley was Teacher of the Year in the district last school year. She said, “I’m shocked. I’m having a hard time believing they did it.”

Goddard said she remembers how Tanksley taught her AP Literature and Mythology, which she said was co-taught by Ashe. She said both were great teachers and she even looked up to Tanksley.

“If I ever went to sleep, you know, she’d be like, 'you better wake up. Don’t you sleep.' She believed in me and I always wanted someone to believe in me,” said Goddard, who was a 2012 graduate of the school.

Richards said as a mother, she thinks cell phones are dangerous. “There’s a lot of predators out there looking for children and my children do not have cell phones,” she said.

“My granddaughter is in Wrens and she had one of the girls in her class send her inappropriate messages and my daughter-in-law had to have her phone canceled,” Maruca said.

WJBF News Channel 6 spoke with Chief Investigator Dedric Smith, of the Burke County Sheriff's Office, and he said preventing this type of crime is hard. “These are adults that are committing criminal acts with kids. As a parent, the only thing you can do is talk with your children.  Have an open line of communication with them and hopefully, if something like this is taking place, the child will be able to go to the parent and tell the parent,” Sgt. Smith said.

Richards added, “I should be able to look at their cell phone at any time, ask them to hand it over, and look at any text messages, phone calls, pictures, etc.”

Sgt. Smith said Tanksley turned herself in to authorities. She has been charged with criminal attempt sexual assault and electronically furnishing obscene material to minors. A spokesperson from the Burke County School District said she has been placed on administrative leave.

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