State works to keep criminals out of the classroom

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As students head back to the classroom for the start of the schools year, State Board of Education members want to make that environment safer.

They’re cracking down on convicted criminals in the classroom, but some say there is a hole in the system.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, board members pulled the teaching licenses of six convicted criminals.

Four of those crimes are sex-related.

“That’s the first time we’ve ever had that kind of number come before us,” says District 7 Board Member Ken Willard.

“We have not done the data analysis to determine why,” says General Counsel for the State Department of Education, Cheryl Whelan, “But we believe it’s just more cases are being reported.”

She says school districts as a whole are reporting more than in previous years.

“We’ve seen increased reporting since this time in 2011 when we had that education effort on what school district obligations were,” Whelan says.

She adds, the problem lies with certain local prosecutors.

“There’s a statute that requires county and district attorneys to report all felony convictions to the Kansas dept of education on a monthly basis, so the vast majority of counties aren’t reporting,” Whelan says.

Only 14 out of 105 Kansas counties are reporting, about 13%. Those include Atchison, Barton, Coffey, Douglas, Ford, Geary, Johnson, Linn, McPherson, Miami, Montgomery, Saline, Sedgwick and Shawnee.

“It could be they have not had any felony convictions,” Whelan says, “But when you have a larger county, obviously they have felony convictions, but this agency doesn’t have any power to force them to report.”

“We don’t have any way of knowing if there’s nothing to report or if they just did not report,” Willard adds, “So it seems to me that’s a weakness in the statute that maybe we ought to have addressed.”

“We don’t want the situation to exist where these kinds of things are happening and it’s easily covered up or not reported to us so we can take the appropriate action,” Willard adds.

According to the State Department of Education website, Jacob Douglas Lull of Cloud County lost his license after being convicted of one count of indecent solicitation of a child. Kurt M. Brundage of Sedgwick County lost his license for his conviction of two counts of indecent liberties with a child. Calvin Andrews of El Dorado lost his license for being convicted of one misdemeanor count of lewd and lascivious behavior. Cathleen M. Balman of Sedgwick County was convicted of one count of indecent liberties with a child.

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