Sex offenders still get school jobs

Report ‘horrific and incredibly troubling’

By Nick Anderson
Washington Post / December 17, 2010

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WASHINGTON — People with a record of sexual misconduct are often able to land positions in public and private schools as teachers, volunteers, or contractors, slipping through a system of background checks meant to thwart them, federal investigators reported yesterday.

Among the 15 cases the Government Accountability Office reviewed was that of former Manassas, Va., teacher Kevin Ricks, who pleaded guilty this year to abusing a male student and faces various other state and federal charges.

In July, the Washington Post disclosed questions about Ricks, his school employment record, and his alleged sexual advances against several students.

Eleven of the 15 cases, the GAO reported, showed that offenders who had previously targeted children were able to obtain positions in schools.

“Even more disturbing,’’ the report concluded, they were able in at least six cases to use those positions to abuse more children. It found:

■ An Ohio teacher who worked in multiple public schools from 1993 to 2006 was forced to resign from one position because of inappropriate conduct with female students but received a letter of recommendation from his superintendent. He then landed a job in a neighboring district, where he was convicted of sexual battery against a sixth-grade girl.

■ A teacher and registered sex offender who had lost his license in Texas was hired by Louisiana schools in 2006 and 2007 without undergoing a criminal background check. There is now a warrant for his arrest on charges that he engaged in sexual conversations with a student.

■ An Arizona public school hired a teacher in 2001 after failing to conduct a criminal check. The teacher had been convicted for sexually abusing a minor. Subsequently, he was convicted of having sexual contact with a young female student.