East Tennessee Schools & Teacher Misconduct

Knoxville (WVLT) - With new attention being focused on the problem of teachers engaging in sexual misconduct.

We wanted to learn more about what local schools are doing to deal with the problem.

Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt has been looking into the issue.

Schools say they are doing more than ever when it comes to background checks, but some are still asking if more should be done to stop problem teachers from going from one school to another.

You may remember the story of erin McLean, the knoxville teacher who allegedly had an affair with one of her teenage students and wound up at the center of a deadly love triangle.

When she lost her job in knoxville, she was hired at a private school in nashville.

At least one local parent says something like that should never happen.

Jeff Hyder says, "I'd like to see some sort of national check, so they could check anywhere in the country so these people can't go from one school system to the next."

There is no national database yet, but the man in charge of hiring policy for the Knox county school system says there are more checks in place now than ever before.

The Knox County schools do fingerprinting, which reveals local, state and national criminal history, and as of last year, a department of children services background check which must be completed before a teacher is hired.

When problems do occur, Human Resources Director for Knox County schools Monty Howell says schools do not simply sweep them under the rug.

"When these situations do occur, the local school systems are required by law to report the situation to the state and then it's up to the state board to make the final determination as to whether the license is pulled."

Future teacher Marcinda Wilder, who will graduate from Lincoln Memorial University next year, says she welcomes intense background checks and thinks schools should do more.

"They need to, I believe, interview, have follow up interviews and do a very, very indepth background check. I beleive they should talk to people who know the person."

Some suggest that part of the solution would be continuing background checks for teachers once they are on the job.

In Knox County that is not done on a routine basis, but when allegations are made, the human resource director tells us they are investigated thoroughly.


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