GREENSBORO — Southwest Guilford High School’s principal says it is “deeply disappointing” to learn that the school’s new boys basketball coach, James Brandon Mullis, has been charged with taking indecent liberties with an underage female student at North Davidson High School, where he previously taught and coached.
Michael Hettenbach, Southwest’s principal, said that, “Per human resources, the teacher’s contract has expired and he will not be renewed for the coming school year.”
Davidson County Sheriff’s detectives received information Monday evening about an inappropriate relationship between Mullis, 36, of High Point, and the student, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
Besides his coaching duties, Mullis was an Exceptional Children (EC) teacher at Southwest from May through the end of the school year. He resigned from North Davidson in May to accept a similar position at Southwest Guilford. Mullis began teaching at North Davidson in 2017.
Detectives conducted a search warrant on Mullis’ residence in High Point on Tuesday with the assistance of the High Point Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation. Detectives found evidence to link Mullis and the student as engaging in a relationship, according to the news release.
Mullis was arrested at his residence and charged with one count of incident liberties with a student and one count of third-degree exploitation of a minor. He was placed in the Davidson County Detention Center with bail set at $50,000 and is scheduled to appear in Davidson County District Court on July 29.
Hettenbach said Guilford County Schools officials informed him Tuesday night that Mullis had been arrested and charged.
“It’s deeply disappointing that I learned last night that a teacher and coach who recently joined our school staff was charged by law enforcement in another county with two crimes involving an inappropriate relationship with a minor unrelated to our school,” Hettenbach said. “Hopefully, that right there tells you how shocked I was.”
Guilford County Schools does a background check before hiring anyone and “that came back crystal clean,” Hettenbach said. “When we hire a coach, we attack it from a lot of different angles. I spoke to the principal at North Davidson, and he was disappointed to see (Mullis) go and spoke well of his teaching and coaching. (Southwest athletics director Brindon) Christman went more behind the scenes, talking to the AD there and other coaches. My assistant principal who oversees the EC program here (Marquice Miller) called individuals as well. We got nothing but a clean check from all of them. They were really disappointed to see him go.”
Mullis was hired to replace Guy Shavers, who resigned in April after guiding the Cowboys to two NCHSAA state championships in the last three seasons, including a 32-0 record and top-20 national ranking this year. Mullis coached Southwest as recently as last weekend at a summer jamboree. Assistant coaches will run the program until a replacement is chosen, which Hettenbach hoped would occur “within two weeks.”
“We’re in a dead period, so we just want to make sure that the families and parents are OK and that they know we’re not in any way ignoring this,” the principal said. “Coach Christman is going to get in touch with the parents, and once we put a plan in place we will communicate that to them.”
Davidson County Schools released this statement:
“We only learned of this alleged incident and arrest in the last 24 hours, however, to our knowledge and based on what law enforcement has shared with us, this unfortunate alleged incident did not occur on Davidson County Schools property or while Mr. Mullis was employed with Davidson County Schools,” the statement read. “We hold high expectations for professional, ethical and legal conduct by all Davidson County Schools employees. Davidson County Schools will cooperate fully with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and any other law enforcement agency with the active and ongoing investigation.
“Our immediate concern is with the student and her family at this time, as maintaining safe school communities is always our top priority.”