Monday, March 30, 2009

TN: Teacher Disclosed Misconduct Investigation

Hamilton County: Metro Didn't Call About Teacher
Reported by Sara Dorsey
POSTED: 4:19 pm CDT March 30, 2009
UPDATED: 5:03 pm CDT March 30, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Did the Metro school system miss some serious clues when it hired a teacher already under indictment for sex crimes?

Donelson Middle School teacher Ronald E. Boykin was arrested Friday, accused of abusing two local boys. But he got that job with Metro with an outstanding warrant for sex crimes in Chattanooga.

With just a couple of phone calls, Channel 4 uncovered a lot of clues that the school system background check apparently could not.

One of those clues is the teacher's application with Metro. He wrote on his application that he had been under investigation for misconduct in the past.

Other clues come from what his old school system has to say. But they said no one from Metro ever called them.

Boykin's past started to unravel when Metro police pulled him over a week ago and discovered 2006 warrants for his arrest in Chattanooga on rape and sexual battery by an authority figure charges.

"He went through all the background checks," said Olivia Brown, Metro schools. "There was no indication on any of the checks that were done that there was anything in his background."

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said he worked for two years at Donelson Middle because Boykin was charged in Hamilton County but never arrested. Warrants and arrest history are different.

"Unfortunately, the database that holds the arrest warrant information is in a separate law enforcement-sensitive database that is not searched for a civilian employer," said Kristin Helm of TBI.

One call to Hamilton County schools by Channel 4 netted Boykin's suspension letter that mentioned misconduct and Boykin's own resignation letter that said he stepped down because the investigation was taking too long.

Both are public records.

On his Metro schools application, Boykin alerted the school that he left amid allegations of misconduct. A Hamilton County schools spokesperson said no one from Metro Nashville schools ever called to inquire about Boykin.

"What I cannot tell you is how that information was then followed up on by the school district, because we don't have that information yet, but that is something that we are definitely trying to find out," Brown said.

The TBI said its background checks worked as intended, since Boykin lacked a true criminal history.

"The process would be that they would have been called. Now, whether or not they were called, they say they weren't, that is what we are trying to determine now," Brown said.

Boykin is on unpaid leave.

His one-year teaching permit expired last August. A spokesperson with the Department of Education said Boykin applied for an alternative teaching license in October but has not completed the requirements to receive it.

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