WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — We have a better understanding of why the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District cut ties with the nonprofit ‘Action4Equity’.
Earlier this week, Winston-Salem Police charged a former Mentor, Eduard Sarmiento, with statutory rape and multiple sexual offenses.
When the nonprofit hired 31-year-old Sarmiento in June 2022 they didn’t think there would be any problems. He was contracted to be a community mentor at Philo Hill Magnet Middle School.
According to Winston-Salem Police, its Criminal Investigations Division received a tip about Sarmiento not long after he was hired.
After the initial investigation, he was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and the company fired him. A second tip came in later about a mentor engaging in sexual activities with a student, and allegedly both situations involved Sarmiento.
Paul Ford, the policy coordinator for the organization, says they take their time hiring people who apply.
“First of all the one we conducted through the Department of Justice sex offender registry. Second of all, every single one of these mentors had to pass a background check through the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system as well,” Ford said.
Shortly after Sarmiento was fired, the school district ended its $1.4-million contract with “Action4Equity.”
Ford knows more than a year after the firing there’s a lot of healing needed inside the organization and with the community.
“This situation broke our hearts. We followed all of our due diligence, and acted swiftly once we received information. Notified all the appropriate authorities. And the welfare of children is the first and foremost concern we have. The statement I shared with you is clear that we can’t have conversations about equity without the safety of all of our children,” Ford said.
In the police report it says all alleged offenses did not happen on any school property.