WASHINGTON – A major local school system blames “human error” for a glitch in its hiring process that allowed felons to work for the schools.
Until recently, there were seven employees working for the Fairfax County Public Schools system who had felonies on their records. At least one had a teaching position at a high school. She was convicted of trying to smuggle heroin into the country.
“All seven employees were removed from their positions,” says school spokesman John Torre. “State law prohibits school divisions from hiring any applicant who’s been convicted of a felony.”
Three have left the system entirely. But the other four remain on administrative leave. They are hoping a circuit judge overturns their firings.
“We believe that the law is clear and there is no discretion in the hiring process,” Torre says.
The school system took the case to court last week. There’s no word on when the judge would rule.
Officials discovered the problem during a review of thousands of employees’ backgrounds.
“Prior to 2009, we were handling paper applications,” says Torre. And because of that, human mistakes were made.
According to school officials, the job application process has since switched over to a computer-controlled system that automatically disqualifies any potential employee if they have a felony on their record.
School officials would not release the employees’ names, positions or for what crimes they were convicted.