According to Boston city education leaders, three employees of Boston public schools who had been found earlier in 2013 to have criminal records in Massachusetts were allowed to return back to their positions in spite of the records. The employees had been on leave since background checks revealed their past records.
These reinstated workers were found to be among those of the school’s employees with arrest records and convictions that include drug possession in a school zone and assault, to more serious charges of robbery, rape and kidnapping.
The discovery of the criminal pasts of the employees was made during the Boston public school officials’ efforts to carry out thorough background checks on its employees. The school has a total of 9000 employees at present. The officials had aimed to complete the background checks at the start of the school year in early September, but the process was only completed on September 18, two weeks into the new school year.
The vetting process revealed that a total of 34 of the 9000 employees at the public school had had some criminal convictions in their past. Of these, 14 employees are still on leave. If their appeals are successful, they may be able to return to work as well. The remaining 17 of the 34 employees discovered have been fired. Of the 34 employees, officials had also discovered one individual with a felony charge for indecent assault and battery pending against him.
The most recent report by the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) panel formed within the school for the process found that 20 of the employees had arrests and convictions against them for rape, prostitution, armed robbery, indecent exposure, motor vehicle homicide, indecent assault and battery, felony, larceny, assault and battery.
The background checks began after a report in the Boston Herald in February 2013 revealed the story of Gerard J Grimes, who was working as a van driver at McKinley Prepatory High School in spite of having three convictions of breaking-and-entering, and two arrests for DUI. Grimes had been fired after the report was published. The high school authorities had also admitted they were unaware of how many of their employees carried past criminal records.
Even as the three employees return to work at Boston public schools, the authorities have refused to release the names of or even the criminal charges against the three employees. The explanation given for the withholding of this information from the public and the parents of the schoolchildren was that there were concerns regarding confidentiality. However parents have been assured by the Interim Superintendent that all employees have been closely scrutinized in the process.
Earlier this year, Boston public school officials had similarly refused to reveal details of other workers with criminal records, citing confidentiality as the deterrent. However, the Boston Herald had appealed to the Executive Office of Public Safety for Massachusetts for release of some information regarding the ex-criminals. The authority body had then ruled that even if the names of the employees were not made public, the school could list arrest charges and specific convictions of the employees instead.