A child's laughter is the greatest sound in the world! They're full of life, and love, and innocence. That's why they need our protection. But parents can only do so much when they send their children off to school. That's why we thought it was important to shed some light on "Who's Working in Your Child's School?"
"I don't know why that person was allowed on the job," says Warren County Schools Chief Financial Officer Willie McElroy, "but we've had discussions to prevent that from occurring in the future."
That person was Dewayne Evans, a convicted felon working for Bennett's Carpet in Russell Springs. And Willie McElroy took action. "Immediately talked to the general contractor for the job, ascertained that the individual was, in fact, on our project. He was, and asked that he be removed from the project that afternoon."
Ironically, the people protesting the hiring of Evans didn't show up at the school until several days after the incident. Turns out they are members of the Indiana-Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters, the same union that had called the school system to report Evans in the first place.
Evans has served time in jail in Adair, Russell, and Oldham Counties, mostly on drug charges, but also wanton endangerment and carrying a concealed deadly weapon.
Bennett's Carpets' Corporate Secretary, Alisa King, says Evans still works for them because the charges against him were from several years ago, none of them were related to inappropriate behavior with children, and he does excellent work. King also says Bennett's Carpets would never hire a sex offender.
So what kind of background checks do Warren County Schools do? And how did Evans slip through the cracks?
The schools' Human Resources Director, Michele Tolbert, says they are required by state statute to do background checks on all teachers, bus drivers, staff, site-based council members, and volunteers. She says they do a minimum of three background checks on each person, conducted by the Office of the Courts, the State of Kentucky, and the FBI. "We get all the traffic violations," says Tolbert, "open container violations, spousal abuse violations, anything of that nature. We've had some that, uh, weapons that might come out, so I think they're pretty detailed."
But what about all the other people the school system hires to work on, around, or in school buildings? Evans was hired by a sub-contractor, to a sub-contractor, who was hired by the general contractor. So where does that buck stop? McElroy says it stops with the general contractor. "It's their responsibility to make those checks prior to anybody being on the job site. And we've had that discussion with D.W. Wilburn to again emphasize that this cannot occur in the future."
McElroy says Wilburn claimed Evans was hired before his background check had been completed. So as a result of this incident, Warren County Schools has implemented a new policy regarding the hiring of non-school personnel. "I think on any new projects that we do, we're going to request written verification of all background checks going forward, so it will give me a higher comfort level." It's hoped it will give parents a higher comfort level, too.
It should also be noted, this incident occurred over the summer when no students were at Warren East Middle School"
If you'd like to know what, as a parent, you can do to keep your kids safe at school. Click here to go to the National Crime Prevention Council's web site. They have advice and resources to keep your children safe at school.