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Board hears results of student safety inquiry
By Conner Hammett, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Plano ISD Board of Trustees heard the results of an inquiry into district personnel policy at Monday night's school board meeting.
The study was conducted by the Texas Association of School Boards, an organization of which Plano ISD is a longtime member. The assessment occurred shortly before winter break.
Cindy Clegg, director of HR services for TASB, said her findings revealed no shortcomings with regard to criminal background checks for potential employees, nor was the district deficient in its practices regarding allegations of employee misconduct.
The study consisted of a November site visit to the district, during which Clegg and April Mabry, assistant director of HR services for TASB, reviewed district policy and procedure documents, as well as six randomly selected case files. The pair also conducted interviews with Tamira Griffin, the district's chief human resources officer, and Joe Parks, executive director of safety and security.
"One of the things I was personally very impressed with was the level of training and communication that goes out to all district employees about their duty to report suspicions of misconduct," Clegg said. "... I would be very surprised if there was any employee in the district who is not aware of their duty to report and how to report."
Clegg said the district subjects potential employees to six levels of background checks -- more than the state requires -- and immediately removes employees from duty if they are accused of "serious misconduct."
"There's a very high level of concern for student safety in this district, and at the conclusion of our review, my colleague and I basically came away unable to recommend any changes," she said, "and in fact I would hold up many of the procedures followed here as a model for other school districts to follow."
The study was commissioned at the behest of Superintendent Richard Matkin following the October arrest of Todd Reich, a Hunt Elementary teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student. A police report released at the time of Reich's arrest said the alleged abuse occurred in late 2009 and early 2010, at which time allegations were made against Reich. However, Matkin has declined to provide details about those allegations, but has said they did not involved sexual abuse. He has said the district did not learn about the abuse until Reich was arrested.
Reich was the second Hunt teacher arrested since 2010 for sexual abuse. Joseph Garbarini was convicted of molesting a kindergarten student and sentenced to 62 years in prison in October 2011.
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