Parent questions delay in notification of accused karate teacher's work in CCSD schools

Buist Academy. (Source: Live 5)
Buist Academy. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District confirms a Mount Pleasant karate teacher accused of sexual assault had ties to the district as recently as a month ago.

James Buchen was arrested twice for accusations of sexually assaulting some of his students back in January.

The Charleston County School District severed ties with Buchen's company on Jan. 17.

It took almost a month for the district to send a letter notifying parents about Buchen's ties to the school. The family who received the letter worries it's the only one in the district that has been notified so far.

When Jon Shumpert heard the news that Buchen had been arrested and accused of sexual assault, he could hardly believe it.

"He had hundreds, if not thousands of children locally who have taken his classes and looked up to him," Shumpert said.

One of those kids was Shumpert's own son. He says Buchen taught karate on Buist Academy's campus. A few days after hearing about the arrest, he says he was shocked he hadn't heard anything from CCSD.

"Parents need to be aware of who their child was exposed to," Shumpert said.

Shumpert's wife sent several emails asking why they hadn't heard anything yet. She received an email from a school board member saying the board was told that Buchen never taught CCSD students on campus. The board member said she got that information from a weekly memo sent by CCSD.

"My son had taken karate classes there for almost 5 years there at Buist, and the overwhelming majority of the time, Mr. Buchen was the primary instructor," Shumpert said.

Requests by Live 5 News for confirmation from the district that Buchen was on CCSD campuses began on Feb. 2. No response was received from the district until Monday. That's also when Shumpert received his letter from the district.

"So it's been almost a month, and they have not sent anything to the families yet," Shumpert said.

Shumpert and his wife aren't sure whether anyone else got this initial letter from the district acknowledging ties between Buchen's company and CCSD.

A statement from the district issued Tuesday states they will send targeted communication to families who participated in the program after they finish their investigation.

Shumpert says that raises a huge red flag.

"Hopefully there's no more, but without parents being notified, there may be some who don't even know about the arrest yet," he said.

He wants to see the district prioritize student safety.

"We need to know that the school district has our children's best welfare at hand and is not worried about how it could look or anything along those lines," he said.

CCSD is still investigating but says they've had a contract with Buchen's karate company for 10 years.

It is not yet clear how many times, if at all, Buchen was on school campuses.

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