Highland Christian Schools’ Attorney Reverses Remarks
August 13, 2008
These types of incidents always infuriate me; “we did a background check!” What type of background check did you do? I can call one reference, tell you I checked their background and call it a day. Well it appears that in this story they did a bit more than that but still failed to do it properly.
State law gives private schools the authority to require a prospective employee to undergo a background check. However, private schools aren’t required to conduct that sort of screening, unlike a public school.
Brown’s troubles in Concrete wouldn’t have shown up on a state criminal background check because he was never charged with a crime.
A statewide background check was done and nothing was found. Even a thorough County search would not have shown the incident because nothing was filed. However, did they call enough references? Did they verify work history with supervisors? Simply saying they did a background check falls short of a reliable explanation. I know there are limits to what you can provide and obtain. When it comes to protecting students and children I argue the limits only hurt the kids!
By Kaitlin Manry and Diana Hefley
ARLINGTON — It’s now unclear how much members of the Highland Christian Schools board knew about Mark Brown’s past when they hired him as principal in 2006.
Brown is awaiting trial for allegedly raping a student inside Highland Christian Schools in Arlington.
Brett Nagle, the school board’s attorney, on Monday reversed statements he made last week that the board knew Brown had been investigated for sexual misconduct at Concrete High School before hiring him.
“They did a background check prior to hiring Mr. Brown,” Nagle said Monday. “They spoke to references of his previous employers. They had no information that he had ever been accused of any sexual misconduct when they hired him.”
Brown is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old Highland student at school after he allegedly encouraged her to run away from home. Investigators found nearly 700 text messages between the two from May 21 to June 13, court documents said.
The girl and her family obtained a no-contact order against the former principal on June 24. Brown was arrested July 9 for investigation of harboring the girl at school.
The school board found out about the allegation against Highland’s top administrator on July 14, Nagle said.
It wasn’t until he was charged with third-degree child rape in late July that Brown was placed on administrative leave at Highland. Nagle said the board didn’t take action sooner because it didn’t have enough information about the harboring allegation.
Brown came to the private Christian school after he lost his previous job as a wrestling coach at Concrete High School in Skagit County. He was investigated there after reports of an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female student.
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