Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn
Parents are calling for annual background checks on all Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) employees that interact directly with their children after a convicted sex offender was found to have been working as a counselor at one Middle School, according to a report from WJLA ABC 7News in Fairfax County, Virginia.
The sex offender – who was fired by FCPS in August 2022 – worked at the school for roughly 20 months after his initial arrest for solicitation of prostitution from a minor by Chesterfield County Police in November 2020 and continued working at the school even after his subsequent conviction in March 2022, 7News reported.
7News reported that the Chesterfield County Police tried to alert FCPS about the sex offender via email in 2020 but the department’s records now show the attempted email notifications bounced back as “undeliverable.” The former counselor registered as a sex offender in June 2022 but was listed as “self employed” on the registry.
“I was surprised this arrest took place in 2020 and it didn’t show up in an annual background check. And then I found out the school doesn’t conduct annual background checks on employees and counselors,” a parent who has three children in Fairfax County Public Schools told 7News.
7News reported that this parent is part of the Fairfax County Parents Association that “is now calling on FCPS to enact a new policy that would require annual criminal background checks for all employees ‘who, as a function of their job, may have one-on-one contact with children.'”
7News spoke to FCPS Superintendent one day after an announcement that the sex offender had been fired was made and asked the superintendent whether she would consider implementing more frequent employee background checks to try to prevent something like this from happening again.
“All of our employees upon hiring have background checks and reference checks, all of those safety checks. We are exploring a variety of options, I think, as we move forward based on this third party report, review, and recommendations in terms of how we might mitigate a situation like this coming forward in the future.”
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