Not only are sex offenders finding work as teachers, they are getting recommendations from school officials eager for them to move elsewhere. A GAO report examines 15 case studies.
Sexual offenders are finding jobs in American schools, sometimes carrying with them glowing letters of recommendation from officials who knew of inappropriate behavior.
A Government Accountability Office report that was requested to explore the problem and was released Thursday examines in depth 15 case studies at public and private schools that employed such individuals.
In eleven cases, GAO investigators found, the teachers or staff members had targeted children before, and in six of the cases they were in new positions where they abused children again.
The GAO report follows a 2004 Department of Education report estimating that millions of students experience sexual misconduct by a school employee at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade.
There is no federal law regulating the employment of sex offenders in schools, and state laws vary widely, the GAO notes in its report. But often school officials are ignorant about those laws and policies that do exist to prevent schools either from hiring sexual offenders or from issuing them recommendations.
“There are still school districts that don’t want the publicity of having a person like that in their district ... and have no ethical qualms about putting him or her in charge of children in other places,” says Robert Shoop, director of the Cargill Center for Ethical Leadership at Kansas State University and a forensic witness in cases of school misconduct.