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Public School System May Not Know Who’s Around Your Kids

Each day parents entrust their children to the care of the public school system. Two separate reports today in the Las Vegas Review-Journal indicate that public school officials in Nevada may not know enough about the people students are exposed to.

An audit conducted by the Nevada Legislative Auditor of the state Department of Education reveals that teachers who are arrested or convicted of crimes that should result in license revocation are able to maintain their licenses for long periods of time afterward.

The Nevada Department of Education does not have an adequate license revocation process for teachers or administrators convicted of crimes, with notification of arrests taking in some cases up to 1,200 days, an audit released Tuesday shows.

The state’s top public educator said schoolchildren have not been at risk despite the audit findings.

State officials indicate that local school districts are better at monitoring their own employees and taking action to remove them from the classroom.

“They know, and have known, if an individual committed a crime or shouldn’t be in a classroom,” Erquiaga said. “They took the disciplinary action. What we found in these audit recommendations is, the individuals had been removed from the classroom. It’s just that their licenses had not been revoked.”

Parents should be confident that the appropriate action is being taken at the district level, he said.

However, the audit report notes,

It is possible for an arrested licensee, who is not in custody, to seek employment outside of the school district where they were employed.

It is also often the delays in reporting by local officials that result in delays in licenses being revoked. The audit report notes that in 10 of the 13 cases it studied, the Office of Educator Licensure found out about an arrest from the local news rather than from the school district.

The audit report contains nine recommendations for improving the Department of Education’s licensing procedures. All nine were accepted by the Department of Education.

Another Review-Journal story reveals that a man hired by the Clark County School District had been fired by the City of North Las Vegas for making death threats to other city employees for nearly a decade.

A North Las Vegas worker terrorized city employees for years even after being fired but that didn’t stop the Clark County School District from considering him a good hire.

Six months after being hired by the school district in 2013, Michael P. Curley was arrested for the same behavior that caused North Las Vegas to fire him: threatening to kill city employees and their families.

In one instance, according to court filings, he threatened to shoot his boss’ children in the kneecaps.

Candidates for custodial positions are supposed to undergo the same vetting procedures as those in place for teachers and other school employees, which include background checks by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI, according to the RJ article.

Despite Curley’s checkered past at the City of North Las Vegas and continuing to harass and threaten employees for years after he was terminated, the CCSD hired him.

The state Department of Education has pledged to implement the recommendations from the audit. But these two stories indicate that school officials, at both the state and local levels, have some work to do to ensure that the students in their care are provided with the safest environment possible.

[Header image from shutterstock.com]

Michael Chamberlain

Michael Chamberlain is the Editor of Watchdog Wire - Nevada. Please contact him at Nevada@watchdogwire.com for story ideas or to get involved in citizen journalism in Nevada. Follow Michael on Twitter: @michaelpchamber

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Categories: Courts & Law, Education, Government Transparency, Jobs, Must Read, Opinion, Policy, Regulation, Waste, Fraud and Abuse
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