Florida private schools hired felons as teachers, prompting investigation: report

Several private schools in Florida hired felons as teachers, prompting a state investigation, a report says.

State officials in Florida have launched an investigation into three private schools in the Orlando area that hired felons as teachers.

The probe by the state Department of Education was prompted by a recent report in the Orlando Sentinel citing three cases in which felons were hired.

One woman landed a job at Winners Primary School in Orlando in November 2016, only one month after being released from prison following a conviction for Medicaid fraud, Department of Corrections records show.

In another case, a man was hired by Southland Christian School in Kissimmee, despite being denied employment at another private school only one mile away. He had been convicted of three felonies in 2011.

Another teacher was hired at Kingsway Christian Academy in Orlando 12 years ago, despite having been convicted of third-degree felony theft in the early 1990s. She remained at the school until March 2018, when she was arrested for abusing a child on campus.

The cases at Southland and Kingsway reportedly violated Florida laws prohibiting private schools that take scholarship money from hiring employees with convictions.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, private schools in Florida are responsible for conducting background checks.

The education department wrote to the three schools Monday, requesting names of their employees, background checks, and evidence that the teachers with felonies had been fired.

The schools’ responses to the department’s inquiries are due May 9.

The rights of former felons have been a debate topic in Florida, where in November voters will decide on a proposal to restore enfranchisement for the states’ 1.5 million convicted felons.

Bradford Betz

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