Substitute teacher is arrested in small Alaskan town.
Jayson Knox, 21, an ex-substitute teacher working at the McQueen School in the village of Kivalina, Alaska, has been arrested on federal child exploitation charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Knox, who was known by many by his nickname “Birdie,” allegedly sent naked pictures to several girls at school and asked for them in return, according to an affidavit by FBI special agent Jolene Goeden filed. He’s also accused of “attempting to meet with girls for sexual interactions,” according to the affidavit.
“Knox is accused of inappropriate communications with ten children,” a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated. Knox began his employment at the school as a substitute teacher in 2018. The small school only has around 140 students in total.
Kivalina itself is known as a popular tourist spot and one that is well-known to whale hunters. It has only about 450 residents, 97-percent on which are Alaska natives.
In September, several students at the school told a teacher that Knox had approached them inappropriately, asking them to meet him and to send him nude pictures, according to the affidavit. Formal student interviews were conducted by Alaska State Troopers in January. Knox was interviewed at that time as well.
In a February interview with special agent Goeden, the school’s principal, Lyle Melkerson, said “a girl had told him that Knox was looking at her weird,” the affadavit said, which continued, “Days later, several girls told a teacher at the school that Knox had asked for naked pictures.”
Knox was arrested on charges of attempted exploitation of a child, transfer of obscene material to a minor and attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.
The school district’s superintendent, Terri Walker, posted the following on its website:
“The District is cooperating with law enforcement agencies regarding the arrest of Jayson Knox on federal child exploitation charges earlier this month. Knox is a former non-certificated substitute teacher at the McQueen School in Kivalina. If anyone has information regarding Mr. Knox’s conduct that you believe may be important to law enforcement, please contact the FBI at (907) 276-4441…Safety of the entire NWABSD family is our most important duty, and our cooperative efforts with the FBI and Alaska State Troopers help to ensure a safe educational environment for all…Privacy protections preclude me from providing further information at this time. Thank you for your understanding.”
The district’s site also has a specified internal complaint process that states, “The Board encourages complainants to resolve problems early and informally whenever possible. If a problem remains unresolved, the individual should submit a formal written, signed complaint as early as possible in accordance with appropriate district procedures.” A workflow chart detailing appropriate contacts and paths of information dissemination accompanies these instructions.
The investigation was conducted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to confront and help put a stop to an epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. The program is led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and combines federal, state, and local resources to identify, arrest and prosecute individuals who exploit children.