GAO: Registered Sex Offenders Finding Jobs In Schools - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

GAO: Registered Sex Offenders Finding Jobs In Schools

USATODAY.COM - Registered sex offenders are getting jobs in schools as teachers, administrators, volunteers and contractors, despite state laws that prohibit them from contact with children, a government watchdog report says.

And school officials in some states enable misconduct to continue by ignoring red flags during hiring or by covering up the firing of sexual offenders, according to the report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

The report, obtained by USA TODAY, is based on a review of 15 cases in 11 states over the last decade involving people with histories of sexual misconduct working in public or private schools. Of those, 11 offenders had previously targeted children, and six abused more children in their new positions.

About 35 states have laws restricting offenders from schools, and most states require criminal history checks, though specifics vary widely, the report found. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who requested the investigation, urged states to strengthen laws or pass a law if they don't have them.

"These children were put in this unsafe position because adults in charge of their well-being failed to do their job," says Miller, outgoing chair of the House education committee. "Parents have a right to believe that their children are safe" in schools.

An Education Department study estimates that millions of kids in kindergarten through 12th grade are victims of sexual misconduct by a school employee at some point. The GAO report also notes most sexual abuse of children goes unreported. In one study it cites, 232 child molesters admitted to molesting a total of 17,000 victims, often without ever being caught.

How offenders slipped through the cracks:

• A teacher/coach who was forced to resign from an Ohio school because of inappropriate contact with girls was hired by a neighboring district, where he was eventually convicted for sexual battery against a sixth-grade girl. The superintendent at his first school had called him an "outstanding teacher" in a recommendation letter.

• Several Louisiana schools hired a registered sex offender, whose Texas teaching certificate had been revoked, without doing a criminal history check. A warrant is out for his arrest on charges of engaging in sexual conversations with a student at one school.

• An Arizona public school skipped the required criminal history check even though the applicant disclosed he had committed a dangerous crime against a child. He was later convicted for having sexual contact with a girl.

• In three cases, schools failed to ask about troubling application responses. For example, a California charter school hired an administrator who had left blank a question about previous felony convictions; he had been convicted of a felony sex offense against a minor.

When questioned by investigators about why such lapses occur, officials typically said the time and costs associated with background checks made it hard to monitor applicants. Fear of lawsuits also was a factor.

Charol Shakeshaft, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor who researches the topic, said school personnel aren't trained in how to recognize and deal with such misconduct. "Parents, teachers, students and administrators don't really know how to handle it. Districts don't think it's a high probability. So people just don't learn what they're supposed to do and what the procedures are. There is hardly any education done on this."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Upriver/Beacon Fire now 20 percent contained

    Upriver/Beacon Fire now 20 percent contained

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 9:08 PM EDT2018-07-19 01:08:31 GMT

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Firefighters on the front lines of the Upriver Beacon fire are making progress on the 115-acre fire that started Tuesday evening.  Megan Hill, Public Information Officer for the fire, tells KHQ the fire is 20 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.

    >>

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Firefighters on the front lines of the Upriver Beacon fire are making progress on the 115-acre fire that started Tuesday evening.  Megan Hill, Public Information Officer for the fire, tells KHQ the fire is 20 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.

    >>
  • Post Falls man dies in Spokane Valley crash

    Post Falls man dies in Spokane Valley crash

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 1:13 AM EDT2018-07-18 05:13:40 GMT

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A Post Falls man died in a collision involving a motorcycle and semi truck Tuesday afternoon in Spokane Valley. Around 3:53 p.m., a Peterbilt semi-truck was heading westbound on Trent turning north into a private parking lot from the second lane when a Suzuki motorcycle in the first lane turned in front of the semi and collided. The driver of the motorcycle, 65-year-old Michael Arnold of Post Falls, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

    >>

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A Post Falls man died in a collision involving a motorcycle and semi truck Tuesday afternoon in Spokane Valley. Around 3:53 p.m., a Peterbilt semi-truck was heading westbound on Trent turning north into a private parking lot from the second lane when a Suzuki motorcycle in the first lane turned in front of the semi and collided. The driver of the motorcycle, 65-year-old Michael Arnold of Post Falls, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

    >>
  • Fire lined vs. fire containment: What's the difference?

    Fire lined vs. fire containment: What's the difference?

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 1:48 PM EDT2018-07-18 17:48:19 GMT

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - We've had a lot of questions about what firefighters  are talking about when they say that the fire is 100 percent lined, but that the Upriver-Beacon fire is 0% contained. Here's the gist, according to firefighters: Containment is essentially their faith in the strength of the fire line. So when they say there is a line around 100 percent of the fire, but 0 percent containment, it means they are concerned that the fire could jump the line.

    >>

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - We've had a lot of questions about what firefighters  are talking about when they say that the fire is 100 percent lined, but that the Upriver-Beacon fire is 0% contained. Here's the gist, according to firefighters: Containment is essentially their faith in the strength of the fire line. So when they say there is a line around 100 percent of the fire, but 0 percent containment, it means they are concerned that the fire could jump the line.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/