How easy is it to get a job in DeKalb schools?

So easy that even a child molester gets hired!

    How can we protect children from having to deal with ‘bottom of the barrel’ teachers like this? Insist on recruiting, paying and supporting only the best and brightest…

    DeKalb teacher got job despite Florida court history

    By Ty Tagami

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    He was banned for life from teaching in Florida after being charged with sexually abusing a student, but Horace Morris managed to get a classroom job in Georgia.

    Morris resigned Friday from the DeKalb County School District after his past caught up with him and his termination tribunal was about to begin. The district only learned of his background after students discovered news articles about him online. The state independently discovered it around the same time after a new computer system flagged his past. …

    Note that — STUDENTS discovered news articles about him online…they ‘Googled’ him. Apparently our HR department doesn’t know how to Google.

    DeKalb backgrounds all teacher candidates, and the district’s public safety department did run Morris through two government repositories of criminal history: the state and the national crime information centers, district spokesman Quinn Hudson said.

    Morris’ Florida background was duly noted but was not communicated to the human resources department.

    “Somebody checked the box that said he was cleared,” Hudson said. “We are now conducting an investigation to find out how he got through the system.”

    Uh huh. We wonder about that one too.

    An April 22 termination letter details the circumstances that led to Morris’ arrest in 2005: While teaching in the Miami-Dade County School District, he was accused of forcing a 13-year-old girl to give him oral sex.

    The girl was in his social science class at the Jet Mann Opportunity Center School, according to an administrative complaint by the Florida Education Practices Commission. The complaint said Morris pleaded guilty to child abuse, a felony, in August 2008, and the court “withheld adjudication of guilt” and ordered five years probation and the surrender of his teaching certificate.

    Good god… how bad is our HR Department? How desperate are we for teachers?

    +++

    More on the story >>>

    WSB-TV, “DeKalb teacher resigns after past sexual accusations surface“:

    Note this line: “Horace Morris worked as a CRIMINAL JUSTICE TEACHER at the DeKalb County High School Technology South for three months.”

    Here is an article from back in 2005, from Channel 7 in Miami/Fort Lauderdale: WSVN, Channel 7: “New sexual allegations made against south Florida teacher

    That story alleges that he victimized two girls in Florida: “Horace Morris a teacher and counselor at Jan Man opportunity school was arrested Sunday after a 13 –year-old girl accused him of forcing her to perform a sexual act. The alleged incident took place in Morris office. After hearing that girl’s story a 19-year-old girl decided to come forward. The teen says Morris assaulted her while she was a freshman at Northwestern Sr., High five years ago.”

    Finally, today is the big DCS Teacher recruitment fair at Lithonia High…. so this news serves to tell potential DCS recruits that they’ll pass the DCS background check even if they have child abuse convictions on their records!

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26 Responses to How easy is it to get a job in DeKalb schools?

  1. Mr. Thurmond:

    If you expect to have any personal credibility left, you should immediately:

    (1) Immediately suspend the DCS staff responsible for criminal background checks — they have to be escorted out of the building, their ID badges have to be confisicated and their computer logins have to be suspended. (To protect yourself, you will want to suspend them with pay, pending the outcome of an investigation…. but they have to be removed from the workplace so that they cannot destroy evidence.)

    (2) Begin running background checks on ALL DCSD employees who regularly come into contact with children — you have to assume that DCS was not performing background checks on its employees. All Teachers, all bus drivers, all cafeteria workers, all school-level administrators, all counselors, etc., you have to start doing the background check process on all of them.

    Now, regarding those suspensions….. according to the DCS Human Resources page: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/human-resources/index/staff-directory, the Role/Responsibility of “criminal background check” is assigned to
    Dr. Tova Davis (tova_n_jackson@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us) and Nikki Goodson (nikki_n_goodson@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us). That page also says that Dr. Tova Davis is “Director of Employment Services”.

    Furthermore, according to page 2 of the DCSD Organizational Chart 2013-2014 (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/organizational-chart.pdf), Dr. Davis reports to Tekisha Ward-Smith.

    Again, those three individuals (Nikki Goodson, Dr. Tova Davis and Tekisha Ward-Smith) have to be immediately put on paid leave, pending the outcome of an independent investigation.

  2. Channel 2’s report is pretty damning, in light of the DCSD organization chart: “[Channel 2’s Erica Byfield] learned district personnel completed a background check and found the information, but the details were not passed on to the Human Resources Department. ”

    But the HR Department DOES the background checks, per the two links in my prior post!

  3. Here is today’s job fair at Lithonia High, as mentioned in the above article: https://www.teachgeorgia.org/jobFairDetails.aspx?id=656

  4. Miss Management says:

    I suspect this guy knew somebody who got him this job. This smells of “Friends & Family” through and through. Thurmond had better find out exactly who rubber stamped this guy through and fire their *ss ASAP. Thank God at least the KIDS Googled the guy!!! Way to go kids!!!

  5. Miss Management says:

    BTW, Thurmond doesn’t give a rats behind about any of this. His real job is to protect jobs for F&F!

  6. Sadly, it seems sexual assault (ie: trampling on women’s civil rights) is still an act which can be ignored and/or buried. Check out Maureen’s post about the situation on college campuses regarding women’s rights when they are assaulted.

    Feds investigating Emory and 54 other colleges on handling of sexual assault complaints

    The Obama administration is being very aggressive about publishing the names of colleges and universities where charges are pending. Wish our local school leaders who are in charge of almost 100,000 young people would be as transparent and cautious. Certainly, this opens us up to severe lawsuits if something happens to a child that can be traced to lazy intake in DCSS HR. The idea to go back and run background checks on EVERYONE is a great idea.

  7. concernedmome30329 says:

    Doesn’t anyone wonder why the students thought to google the teacher? What do you think got them thinking to look? I am guessing something didn’t feel right about the teacher.

  8. John Oselette says:

    @dsw2contributor: I absolutely agree with you. This is a watershed moment for Mr. Thurmond and the board. Let’s see whether they spin this in order to downplay the ineptitude of HR, or take a bold stand and put those responsible, Nikki Goodson, Dr. Tova Davis and Tekisha Ward-Smith, on administrative leave and conduct an independent and thorough investigation. This is unacceptable. People should be storming the gates.

  9. midvaledad says:

    Miss Management is right. Mr. Morris has a friend or family member who helped him get hired. That person and their superiors should be fired.

    I included the superiors because the inside person believed it wouldn’t be found out. What kind of culture is in the central office if employees think they can do things like this?

  10. Dr. Davis’ full name is “Tova Jackson Davis”, as in this April 5, 2013 AJC article: “How to pursue teaching as a second career”:
    http://www.ajc.com/news/business/how-pursue-teaching-second-career/nXDck/

    I’m told that (1) BOTH of Tova Jackson Davis’ parents are/were DCSD employees AND (2) her mother is Beverly Jackson, the former Glen Haven Elementary School Principal.

    As Principal, Beverly Jackson used $480 worth of school funds to purchase 30 copies of the book self-published by her supervisor Ralph Simpson. This fact was documented by Maureen in her July 26, 2010 blog entry “Another dismal chapter in DeKalb schools – Official sells his autobiography to schools under his supervision”:
    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/07/26/another-dismal-chapter-in-dekalb-schools-official-sells-his-autobiography-to-schools-under-his-supervision/

    The DSW-1 topic about Simpson’s book:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/07/best-book-deal-in-town.html

    And in the “even a broken clock is right twice a day” category, I found that MACE had Beverly Jackson on their “Needs Improvement” (NI) list of administrators:
    http://www.theteachersadvocate.com/evaluation_of_administrators.html

    Beverly Jackson is no longer a Principal. I believe that she was removed as a result of Dekalb’s investigation into CRCT cheating. The removals were documented in Maureen’s January 27, 2011 blog “Two dozen DeKalb educators yanked after cheating probe”:
    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/01/27/two-dozen-dekalb-educators-yanked-from-classroom-after-cheating-probe/
    Maureen did not have the names of who was yanked, but a comment (under her blog entry) dated January 27, 2011 5:11 PM says “WSB TV showed parents at Glen Haven who received notes home that their principal was removed.”

    Here is a WSB-TV list “Dekalb Schools Affected by CRCT Actions” list, dated Feb 1, 2011:
    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/dekalb-schools-affected-by-crct-actions/nJTKr/
    That list names Glen Haven Elementary, but it does not mention Jackson (or any other employee).

  11. Nikki Goodson, Dr. Tova Davis and Tekisha Ward-Smith may well be 100% innocent of any wrongdoing.

    The issue is that person in the center (Davis) of this scandal has an immediate family member who misused school funds and was removed from her job as a result of CRCT cheating.

    So the only way Goodson, Davis and Ward-Smith can be cleared is for Mr. Thurmond to put them all on paid administrative leave and appoint someone impartial to perform an independent investigation.

  12. thedeal2 says:

    We will never hear the truth because they will say it is with respect to “personnel matters” and that they can’t discuss it publicly.

  13. howdy1942 says:

    This whole thing is very, very disturbing. If students can Google this guy, why can’t anyone in Human Resources? This isn’t some guy who lied about taking some course or even getting some degree – he forced a 13 year old girl to engage in a sexual act. What did he do to attract the attention of students to Google him? I hope that question has a reasonably good answer – but it needs to be answered and soon!! And it will be answered and Michael Thurmond needs to understand that.

    Also, we don’t need any more excuses by anyone at the County or State level for missing or miscommunicating this guy’s background!! There is NO excuse – this is a gross failure of anyone with any responsibility for protecting our students from people like this and that failure in performance should be treated accordingly. I’m also curious – why do we need a “doctor” behind the name of the employment director – don’t we just need someone who can do the job?

    How many more shoes must drop in Dekalb County before we start cleaning house and insuring that competence and performance rules at the DCSS? We have an opportunity to start that process on May 20.

  14. Just tired says:

    It will get worse. Dekalb will hire anyone now. Teachers are leaving this county in droves! Why would anyone want to stay when there are no benefits for teachers. No raise in six years, no TSA or social security, and we still have furlough days! Even Clayton county is giving their teachers raises! How can anyone expect to hire quality teachers when teachers in this county are so devalued! Can it get any worse? I hope not!

  15. Mildred says:

    As I understand it, Tova Jackson-Davis has had a meteoric rise in DeKalb Schools. I understand she only spent half a year in the classroom as a high school English teacher before getting on the promotion pole. I understand that she cozied up to the right individuals who greased her way until she reached the climax of her professional career at the County Office.

    Some call this the Peter Principle.

  16. Why has the link to this story (hidden behind the AJC’s pay-to-access articles game) completely disappeared from the free online AJC? Can anyone else find it? Does Thurmond’s PR guy have that much pull with the AJC?

  17. @dissonance: No, Thurmond’s communications officer, Quinn Hudson has no media pull. He is actually a political campaign manager. In fact, he was Thurmond’s political campaign manager at one point. Perhaps, in reality, he still is.

  18. This part sickens me >>

    The complaint said Morris pleaded guilty to child abuse, a felony, in August 2008, and the court “withheld adjudication of guilt” and ordered five years probation and the surrender of his teaching certificate.

    What a spineless judge!! If child abuse – forcing a 13 year old to perform oral sex on an adult male who is a power figure over her isn’t a crime worthy of jail time, what is?!! Luckily, the kids in his class in DeKalb are smart enough to google him and protect anyone there from becoming his next victim. Because anyone with an ounce of sense or knowledge of child molesters knows that they don’t stop. Good going to the kids at South DeKalb Tech!!

  19. Former Dekalb Parent says:

    I do know that a few years ago ..ALL DCSS employees went through a rigorous background check, even if they had been employed for years..why did this guy get through?

  20. concernedmom30329 says:

    I think he was hired after that major recheck. But you have to wonder if Thurmond has the stomach to hold anyone accountable. I doubt it.

  21. A Pauled says:

    Amazing!!! I had to go through a background check to rent a house. The realtor would not give me the lease until the background and credit checks were completed. To rent a house! Why did HR go ahead and place this guy in a classroom without waiting for the background check to be completed for his file?

  22. Another comment says:

    May I ask why no one has on their list to suspend / fire the principal of the school this teacher was at.? Don’t teachers get some sort of yes or no on the candidates they are sent. I always had certificates with the rule of 3. Unless they were totally blocked by a 30 PT veteran. But I could usually find something with in the interview and application with subject matter experts or using one of the Lt, on my staff who were in the reserves to find some embellishments in the military record that didn’t translate truly to the position, then cause HR clerks who were always 5 + grades overpaid didn’t catch.

  23. Another comment @May 5, 2014 at 12:51 AM – May I ask why no one has on their list to suspend / fire the principal of the school this teacher was at.? Don’t teachers get some sort of yes or no on the candidates they are sent.”

    The WSB-TV article posted above says the Principal is the one who actually took action once the students found that Horace Morris had a criminal-record.

  24. Word Wall says:

    Shocking. The children had to search and discover and expose the child molester teaching them. Such a clear case of DERELICTION of duty…

  25. formerdekalbteacher says:

    I have a previous misdemeanor conviction. It does not involve children. When I applied to Dekalb I gave full disclosure and had to provide all sorts of documentation. I also had to report it to the Professional Standards Commission. It took Dekalb over 6 months to send me a letter stating they were satisfied with their investigation. It took the PSC almost a year to bring action. They wanted to suspend me for 6 months for failure to report it in a timely manner. That is a long story in itself and I won’t go into details, but as soon as I applied in Dekalb I gave full disclosure. I fought this with the PSC and it took over 2 years to reach an agreement of 5 days suspension. I have to report this on every application, and explain I had my teaching license suspended for 5 days. There are too many people who fall through the cracks with serious convictions. Did you know if you have a drunk driving arrest or conviction, one does NOT have to report it to the system or the PSC? There needs to be better governance on all levels.

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