If you have ever tried to get a job with Howard County Schools, or know someone who has, you know that it is not simple or straightforward. It takes forever. I believe they have worked in recent years to streamline the process, but it still takes forever.
I always assumed this was because their human resource department was doing thorough, perhaps multiple, background checks, transcript evaluation, calling references, and so on.
This article describes the case of a former Howard County substitute teacher who is now in prison on child pornography charges. The parents of one of the victims are bringing a civil suit against the school system, to the tune of $600,000. Their point? That the school system bears the responsibility of adequately vetting employees and protecting students.
Aside from the violation of student privacy, which is the worst thing going on here, I imagine the school system looks upon this as a public relations nightmare. Expensive, too. In a time when we are cutting back on direct classroom support for students, hcpss has been increasing moneys spent on public relations personnel. Also on fees for freelance lawyers.
It sounds like a self-fulfilling policy--the more we focus on PR and lawyers, the less we focus on students. And the less we focus on students, the more we appear to need the spin of PR people and the protection of lawyers.
May I respectfully suggest that our priorities appear to be backwards?