The Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation has 3,400 employees and state law requires everyone to pass a background check. School leaders say it is a solid process – but it may not be air tight.
Justin Wolf, a 25-year-old third-grade teacher at Scott Elementary previously worked at the YMCA in downtown Evansville.
The Y confirms Wolf was cited for having a child sit on his lap in 2012. Further investigation found no evidence of abuse. Y officials say Wolf was required to take child safety training. They report this was the only complaint against him.
Years later Wolf would get a job with the EVSC after graduating from USI in 2016, but school leaders say the incident at the YMCA didn’t appear on background checks.
Wolf now faces multiple felony counts of child molestation for allegedly touching a student during class.
EVSC spokesman, Jason Woebkenberg says background checks don’t always catch everything. “If an employee is working for an individual, they’d have a conversation about performance, for example, that is an internal record. That’s not going to go through on any future screening.”
Prospective employees must pass through national and local criminal history and sex offender registries, a child protection index, and phone calls with former employers.
Woebkenberg says Wolf didn’t raise red flags.
“Hopefully all three of these parts together can be really tight and can show that an employee that is about to be hired has not had any issues in the past,” Woebkenberg says.
Indiana law requires teachers to be stripped of their license if convicted of any one of dozens of felonies, including child molesting.
State statute says current employees must go through a background check every 5 years. Wolf was a teacher at Scott for just 2 years.
Wolf is now suspended from Scott and banned from school grounds pending a recommendation to the school board. He is scheduled to be in court Thursday.
Woebkenberg says background checks are “as thorough as it can be,” but the EVSC is “constantly reevaluating” its process.
(This story was originally published February 14, 2018)