This case involves a theater teacher at an inner city charter school who was accused of sexually assaulting a number of middle-school students shortly after being hired. The man, in addition to his teaching responsibilities, was also placed in charge of an after school program where the assaults took place. The school was owned and operated by a firm that operated a number of similar schools in the metropolitan area that claimed to subject all prospective employees to a rigorous background checking procedure before making the decision to hire. Nevertheless, the man had made a number of disturbing posts on social media before being hired that allegedly should have precluded him from being hired as a teacher.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience organizing and operating after school recreational activities for children?
- 2. Are you involved in determining hiring and screening practices for educators?
Expert Witness Response E-008468
My experience in after school and extracurricular activities has been as an elementary and middle school principal. It was my responsibility to screen, hire, and supervise individuals who acted as coaches, advisers, and supervisors in after school athletic, childcare, and extracurricular programs. Most of the time I was the one hiring and screening applicants, although I did work with outside entities such as the YMCA childcare, scouting programs, and recreation programs where I was not directly responsible for hiring and/or supervising the individuals who worked with my students. I was involved in those capacities in my 25 years in public education. I am also the Director of Programs for a national non-profit school safety organization. One area of concern in which we provide direct training is in supervision both of students and of employees as a means to ensure the safety of students. It would be standard procedure to perform an in-depth background check of anyone who would be working with children, which would often include a review of social media accounts.
Expert Witness Response E-082461
In my last 2 districts, after school programs were operated through our adult school. Third-party organizations and/or individuals were used, most notably were the before and after school programs at our elementary school. My involvement was at the policy level where we required that anyone other than our certificated staff working with children meet the same vetting requirements as regular staff. I was also responsible for the hiring and supervision of the program director. Hiring and screening practices were included in lectures that I gave in general administration classes as a university professor.