A Jackson County Early College teacher is being investigated for reported sexual activity with a student.
Dale Galloway, 49, a former head football coach at Smoky Mountain High School, allegedly engaged in a relationship, both physical and through social media, with a female student at the school.
As a matter of policy, The Sylva Herald does not typically identify victims or alleged victims in connection with sexual crimes.
Galloway has resigned from the school system and surrendered his teaching license. As of Wednesday, he had not been criminally charged. The school system released a public statement late last week about the allegations, naming Galloway.
Search warrants on file at the Jackson County Clerk of Court’s Office, issued in mid-April, state School Superintendent Kim Elliott called the Sheriff’s Office on April 17 to file a report about the allegations.
During a call with Detective Tanya Dula, Elliott put Jackson County Early College counselor Matt Kirby, 43, on the phone, according to court documents. Kirby told Dula a student informed him earlier in the school year about exchanges between her and Galloway that were “pushing the boundary” of inappropriate, the document states.
Near spring break, March 11-15, the student reportedly told Kirby she sent “sexting” photos to Galloway, during a March 6-10 field trip to New York, court documents state.
Sexting is sending sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone. The student showed Kirby her phone and Galloway’s response to her messages, which Kirby paraphrased to Dula as, “My brain is mush but everything else is hard,” according to court documents.
Neither Galloway nor Kirby responded to requests for comment.
The student turned 18 years old in the spring. School personnel engaging in sexual activity with a student four years their junior is a Class G felony in North Carolina. Student consent is not a defense, according to state law.
If convicted of a Class G felony, a defendant could face 8-31 months in prison, based on state sentencing guidelines.
Kirby reportedly told Dula that the night prior to Elliott’s phone call, the student informed him that she and Galloway had met twice at Jackson County Airport.
The first time they met there, she said they “made out,” and the second time they were more intimate, including sexual touching, court documents state.
The documents do not provide dates of meetings.
The Sheriff’s Office was granted search warrants for:
• Galloway’s Snapchat account.
•The female student’s Snapchat account.
• Galloway’s iPhone.
• The student’s iPhone.
• A search of “any and all items in Dale Galloway’s possession or belonging to him,” cameras, cellphones or other electronic devices in particular.
• Matt Kirby’s computer, laptop, a red notebook with tie-dye tape on it, clinical notes pertaining to the case and computer passwords, notes and logs that would aid in obtaining digital information.
In court documents, Dula states the student and Galloway attempted to delete data on their phones.
The school system’s May 23 news release states Elliott was made aware of the allegations by Jackson County Early College Principal Melanie Jacobs. Elliott immediately called the sheriff’s office, which opened an investigation.
The school system initiated its own investigation on May 2. Elliott requested Galloway surrender his teaching license on May 3 and he complied, according to the news release.
“Jackson County Public Schools could not begin the personnel investigation until released to do so by the sheriff’s office,” Elliott said in a followup email.
Galloway was relieved of his duties April 17, Elliott said in a Monday email.
Kirby was suspended with pay on April 18 and suspended without pay effective May 20, according to Kevin Bailey, director of human resources for the schools. The school system hired Kirby in July 2018.
Galloway taught math and coached football in Transylvania, Wake and Ashe counties before landing in 2006 at Smoky Mountain High School as a football coach and a math teacher.
He inherited a team that was coming off back-to-back 1-10 seasons. The Mustangs went 6-6 in his first season before losing in the first round of the state playoffs. They went 6-6 again the following season and were 3-8 in 2008. Galloway stepped down as coach about a month after that season ended.
Tragedy struck the Galloway family in October 2007 when his 12-year-old son, Connor, was found hanged in his bedroom. Authorities believe he was a victim of the choking game, an activity in which children cut off blood flow to their brains and then experience a high when the blood flow returns.
Galloway immediately went to work on making parents aware of the choking game and other dangerous activities children and teenagers may become involved in.
In 2009, Galloway and his wife, Michele, partnered with the National Peace Foundation to form the nonprofit Connor’s HEART (Help Eliminate Adolescent Risk Taking).
As a gift to the school, the Smoky Mountain class of 2008 gave two plaques, which were placed on the Mustang statues at the top of the steps leading from the old gym to the football field. One is in honor of Dale Galloway, and the other is in memory of Connor Galloway.
While not directly answering whether the plaque honoring Dale Galloway will be removed, Elliott said Tuesday, “We will be honoring Connor Galloway’s memory on both sides of the Mustang stairway.”
After resigning from his position at SMHS, Galloway took a job as an assistant football coach and math teacher at Cherokee High School. He remained there until coming to Jackson County Early College in 2013.