How in the world could a Florida public school board hire a teacher with a substantiated finding of child sexual abuse in his former home state of New Jersey?
This is the questions asked and answered by WINK television news in an excellent piece I recently ran across. You can see the story by clicking here.
The teacher in question had been an employee in the New Jersey Division of Youth Services when he had been fired from his job after an outside investigation had found that child sex abuse claims against him were substantiated.
Predators Often Seek Jobs That Place Them With Kids
When this abuser moved to Florida, he applied for a job as a school teacher. (This is not unusual as, in our experience, predators often seek positions of trust where they can be close to children.) He mentioned that he worked for the New Jersey Division of Youth Services, but apparently failed to mention that he had been fired over a substantiated claim of sex abuse.
Apparently, the southwest Florida school board had no clue that this teacher was a child abuser until the parent of a child in one of his classes (who happened to have been one of his victims earlier in New Jersey) sent several emails to the school board in complaint.
The school board finally fired the teacher, but the reporting by WINK suggests that the school board never called on the teachers references - and particularly his former New Jersey employer. Had the school board called, it is certainty that they would have been told about this applicant's prior transgressions with children.
Quality, Meaningful Background Checks Are Key (And Usually Easy)
As we have posted, this a key issue in a lot of child sexual abuse cases - whether an adequate background check was performed. As the expert interviewed in the WINK story says, "All it takes are phone calls and diligent checking." In this instance, it would have taken only a few minutes to call New Jersey and ask some simple questions. Surely that few minutes is worth spending when compared to the lifelong devastation that child sexual abuse can cause. All too often, however, organization just don't spend the time. Sad!
If you or a loved one has a question about a potential Florida child sexual abuse case, please call Florida attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901.