According to parents, prosecutors, community members, school officials and social media, Nowlin represented himself in a variety of capacities: as a child and family therapist, licensed social worker, guidance counselor, vice principal, dean of students, dean of student support, and director of community affairs.

Parents asked school officials how Nowlin had been given direct contact with students and layers of responsibilities when he was initially hired at the school to oversee community engagement events.

During the meeting, Helen Shelton, a central office liaison to the school, told parents that the school was "just as surprised" as they were to learn of the allegations against Nowlin.

She urged parents to remember that prior to the allegations, "no parent ever came forward and said Mr. Nowlin had done anything … harmful to your child. There were no flags at the time indicating he wasn't suitable to work with our students."

School system officials acknowledged that they do not have full oversight over hiring of temporary professionals. They said that the central office conducts full background and credential checks of permanent, full-time employees, but "hiring managers," who are often principals, are responsible for credential checks of contractors and temporary professionals.

The city's principals union said that the system's human capital office conducts all credential checks and determines who is eligible to work in the school system.

In the last five years, two high-ranking officials — a former school board president whom Alonso was planning to hire as a deputy CEO, and Alonso's deputy chief operating officer — have resigned after The Sun found they had misrepresented their credentials.

Nowlin was originally hired in 2011 by former principal Sidney Twiggs, who left the school at the end of last school year. Reached by phone Thursday, Twiggs said he was still employed by the school system.

"At this time I can't make any comment," he said, referring questions to a city schools spokeswoman. Asked why he couldn't comment, Twiggs said, "They told me, 'Don't say anything.'"

Jimmy Gittings, head of the city's principals union, attended the meeting Thursday, assuring parents that he "was working with management to ensure that nothing like this ever happened again."

Parents said they left with more distrust than when they arrived.

"I don't believe any of it," said Vivian Lee, the parent of a seventh-grader. "Give it a month, they won't even remember it. I don't even want them talking to my child."

Lee's son, Sallard, said Nowlin was a nice guy and would ask about his imaginary friend.

"Then, when I heard, that's when I got mad," Sallard said.

Tamnika Jones, a peer recovery advocate for Americorps Vista who has know the Nowlin family for years, said that he is a great guy who comes from a strong family of faith and educators. She offered to help the Hazelwood community — her daughter attends the school — with counseling.

"He cared about the kids," Jones said. "I just hope we can all come together and support each other, and it will work itself out. But at this point, it seems the kids are going to bounce back from this quicker than the adults."

Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.

erica.green@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EricaLG