“We are looking for patterns of behavior where individuals have engaged with law enforcement to see if they are suitable for employment,” Shea said.
The review, Shea said, could include going to court to review files if necessary — a practice that school officials told the Globe a few months ago was illegal, even after the Globe pointed out that other districts take such steps. Shea said the department has subsequently determined that it can look at court files.
“This will be part of our practice,” Shea said. “If there is any incident at all that we are not sure of, we will pull the file, look at it, and get the story behind the information.”
Concern over criminal background checks first came to light last summer when the Globe reported that Johnson proceeded with promoting Rodney Peterson to co-headmaster of the O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury in the summer of 2011, even though he was facing charges of assaulting his wife.
Peterson ultimately admitted to sufficient facts for a guilty finding, and Johnson, who wrote a letter of support on his behalf to a judge, faced calls for her resignation from dozens of parents and City Councilor John Connolly.
During the School Committee meeting two weeks ago, at least one member, Mary Tamer, said she supported setting a high bar for employment.
“If someone has any history of a violent past, is that someone we want to work with children?” asked Tamer, who has been pushing for more rigorous criminal background checks. “I’m not saying someone who made a rash mistake at the age of 25 should not be employed, but what I am saying is I don’t necessarily think they should be employed working with children.”