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Auditors find teacher misconduct cases not always brought to State Board’s attention

UTAH STATE CAPITOL – A troubling audit shows dozens of cases of teacher misconduct were never sent to the State Board of Education like they were supposed to be.

State auditors went over the personnel files of the employees of 20 different school districts and charter schools and found there had been 45 cases of misconduct that should have been reported to the State Board.  Only 17 of them were.

“We found a case where a teacher threw a wrench at a student and hit the student in the head.  We found a case of a teacher who came to school intoxicated.  We a case of viewing pornography [at school],” says Utah Auditor John Dougall.

Other cases include a teacher cutting a student, a teacher telling two female student he wanted to see them kiss, and, “A teacher offered extra credit to a student if she would dress in a certain way and make sexually charged comments,” says Dougall.

Even if an educator is disciplined, fired or charged criminally, only the Board can revoke a teacher’s license.  Dougall says, in one case, a teacher was accused and allowed to quit.  That made it possible for that person to work in another district, where another complaint was filed.

He doesn’t believe there was any confusion about whether or not these cases should have been reported.

He adds, “It’s not one of those things of, ‘Oh, the law needs to be changed on this.’  This is, ‘There needs to be an enforcement of the existing rules.’”

Dougall recommends the Board create a group of auditors that rotate through school districts to look for these unreported teacher misconduct cases.  State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson says they’re already taking steps to make sure misconduct is discussed with the proper people.

“We are engaged in more training and better training for our schools and districts so that they know the requirements,” she says, adding, “We have a task force being put together so that we can make sure that our processes are tightened up, as well.”