AISD has 637 educators with criminal backgrounds

photo / Basak Creative Commons license graphic 

A while back, we posted about the surprising results of the Austin educator background check conducted under the new background check initiative. The initiative, passed under Texas Senate Bill 9, requires all Texas public school districts and private schools, under the thumb of the Texas Department of Public Safety, to conduct criminal history checks on all certified employees. AISD, the first public school district to begin conducting background checks under the new law, has now completed the task and found that out of its 7,243 employees, 637 have criminal records, with 36 of those being felony charges. (Remember that a charge does not equal a conviction.)

AISD initially refused to disclose any information about teachers’ criminal records, but has now partially disclosed how many teachers in each school have criminal backgrounds (they’ve only released that information for 310 of the 637). Travis High School is in the lead so far with 17 teachers with criminal histories. AISD will not to reveal the teachers’ names or the charges laid against them, although Pamela Hall, an AISD human resources employee, said in February that charges include DUIs, theft by check, criminal trespassing, and more. Under the new law, anyone convicted of felony assault or felony sex crime will be fired.

The law brings up some interesting questions. Everyone wants to protect the children, but exactly how much information does a parent have the right to? And don’t teachers convicted of a crime have the right to a second chance? Does the district have a legal obligation to tell parents that their child’s teacher is a convicted felon? Where’s the balance between parents’ right to know and teachers’ right to privacy?

The district has released no new information about its employees’ criminal histories since February 28. Where’s the rest?

Check out the list of employees with criminal history records by school here (as of February 28).

Read the AISD press release on the background checks here.