Recent reports indicate that Florida is currently experiencing a shortage on teachers. Schools all over the state have potentially thousands of open positions for aspiring instructors to begin their careers in front of the classroom. These hirings could prove crucial in improving the state’s educational scores and result in more successful younger individuals.
However, the vast amount of openings should not convince districts to take shortcuts on their hiring process. While the state does have a number of set laws in place to make the recruitment process fair and safe, each district still has their own hiring procedures. Unfortunately, recent stories have put some of those procedures into question, as one county came under scrutiny for unintentionally hiring a man with a substantiated child sex abuse claim as a teacher.
A costly oversight
Back in 2012, Cape Coral hired a male teacher as a camp counselor before he went on to become a math teacher at Varsity Lakes Middle School in 2014. In 2016, the superintendent of Lee County’s school district received an email from a parent claiming that the man sexually abused her son back in 2007. The man did not receive criminal charges in New Jersey. However, the court did substantiate the woman’s claim.
Though the camp was excused since those types of records were not accessible to them back in 2012, Lee County’s school district came under fire for their failure to notice. WINK News notes that schools must go through an extensive criminal background check prior to their hiring. However, they are designed primary to detect any criminal behavior and past controversies in Florida. Because the man was not criminally charged and it was not in Florida, they did not find out until a few years after they hired him.
The district spokesperson released a statement claiming that the school did a background check on him and found no criminal record and positive reviews from work references. However, he did note that the hiring manager must contact two references at minimum. WINK News revealed that documents state that the man did not leave his New Jersey school on a positive note.
A thorough investigation
Many Florida parents trust the schools they have their children enrolled in to provide a safe environment as they aid in helping the kids grow as individuals. Incidents such as this can shatter that trust and can negatively impact the performance of both the children and the school district. With how increasingly important safety is becoming in our education system, schools need to ensure that the professionals they are hiring do not have suspicious backgrounds that could put the children in danger.
If you believe a teacher could be putting your children at risk and that the school made a serious error in their hiring process, an attorney can help you prove your case in the courtroom and assist in providing a safer learning environment for your kids and their classmates.