CCSD considering changes in teacher hiring process - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

CCSD considering changes in teacher hiring process

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Melvyn Sprowson, a former employee of Clark County School District, was arrested on Nov. 1, 2013. (Source: CCSD Police) Melvyn Sprowson, a former employee of Clark County School District, was arrested on Nov. 1, 2013. (Source: CCSD Police)

The Clark County School District admits it may be time to make a change in the way it screens potential teachers after shocking accusations involving an employee and a runaway teen.

FOX5 has been following the case against Melvyn Sprowson and pressing the school district for answers about his supposedly clean background check.

CCSD can't be specific about what was missed in Sprowson's case because of personnel reasons. However, the district said it relies a lot on the honor system when it comes to references and that was true in Sprowson's case.

Last week, CCSD police found court documents inside Sprowson's apartment revealing the kindergarten teacher was investigated for sexual abuse involving students at a Los Angeles school.

The matter was settled out of court and never revealed to school officials.

"It's difficult," said CCSD Chief of Staff Kirsten Searer. "The police have the authority to pull records we don't as a school district. Prosecutors have special rights that we don't have in our human resources department."

Searer said Sprowson did not raise any red flags when he was hired, having passed an FBI background check. No arrests, charges and convictions were found.

His previous employers verified his employment, yet those calls only reveal start and end dates.

The most telling piece of information into an employee's past is a confidential reference form from a previous supervisor. It specifically asks about sex-related offenses.

"I can't comment on his personnel file but I can tell you that we wouldn't have proceeded in hiring him if there were any concerns raised by the person who filled out the form. As a general rule, sometimes we can't control it if people are not thoroughly honest with us."

Searer said all procedures were followed. However, in light of Sprowson's case, she admits the school district could do more to weed out bad teachers.

"Some of the considerations could be requiring principals to have a phone conversation, requiring principals to vet the references to make sure the references have credibility in terms of calling the school district. We could potentially do Google searches," she said.

The school district hired 2,000 teachers this year and they do the same background check for every employees. Searer said online searches may not be accurate and can be time-consuming.

The district hopes to have any new policies in place in time for hiring season in March.

Last month, FOX5 spoke exclusively to the victim's mother in this case. She told FOX5 Sprowson did not have a right to take her daughter. She also wants him to stay behind bars and never be allowed to teach again.

Sprowson is being held on a $650,000 bail.

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