Chicago Public School District to Review Background Check Policies

By Michael Klazema on 10/4/2016

The Chicago Public School District will review its policies for employee background checks after a teacher was arrested for trying to spy on students. The male teacher in question was recently arrested for planting a video camera in a school bathroom. He used the camera to spy on "at least one student," according to a report from the Chicago Tribune. He had a criminal background that reporters speculate might have helped Chicago Public Schools predict his behavior.

The teacher was an employee at Chicago's Ogden International School when the incidents allegedly occurred. The school is a K-12 institution with fewer than 800 students. The man had worked at the school since 2009. Tribune does not specify which subject he taught.

Allegations say that the teacher attached a camera under the sink of a bathroom. Most of what the camera recorded was staff members using the bathroom, but the Tribune says the video also included footage of an eight-year-old boy. As a result of this footage, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office charged the former Ogden teacher with eight felony counts: seven counts of unauthorized videotaping (the victims were supposedly school staff members) and one count of child pornography (for filming the eight-year-old boy).

The Tribune report stated that prosecutors originally intimated that the suspect had no previous criminal history. As it turns out, he has several past misdemeanor convictions: one for “prowling” someone else's property in 2005 and one for “window peeping” in an unspecified year. The prowling charge occurred in New Hampshire while the man was coaching a college track and field team. The peeping charge occurred in downstate Illinois sometime before 2005.

When asked if they knew about the convictions, Chicago Public Schools said that they could not discuss an employee's background check per state law. The district did say that they run background checks on all employees—including criminal checks through "state and federal databases," and fingerprinting. Depending on the federal database that the district used to run background checks on the suspect, they could have missed his New Hampshire conviction. Reports have also indicated that it's also possible that the window peeping conviction was old enough in 2009 that it wouldn't have shown up on an employee background check.

Chicago Public Schools is pledging to "conduct a full review" of its background check policies. The district will look at 2009 hires to make sure that all criminal background check requirements were being adhered to at the time.


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