Garza Letter Addresses Fairfax County Schools' Accidental Hiring of Convicted Felons

The superintendent's response to a Washington Post report that highlighted the illegal hiring of felons by the division.

Karen Garza, the superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools issued a letter Tuesday about the school division's accidental hiring of several convicted felons. (Patch file.)
Karen Garza, the superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools issued a letter Tuesday about the school division's accidental hiring of several convicted felons. (Patch file.)
Karen Garza, the superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools issued a letter Tuesday about the school division's accidental hiring of several convicted felons. 

Read the original report: Fairfax Schools Mistakenly Hires Seven Felons, Doesn't Notice for Years 

Garza's letter to parents was published Tuesday in the district's myFCPS Family e-newsletter, which goes to every employee and parent of every child enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools.  
What do you think about the accidental hiring? Tell us in the comments 

Here is the letter as it appeared in the newsletter: 

"Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is committed to open communications with our employees, families, and community. For this reason, it is important to share information on a situation which came to light in the fall of 2012, and the steps we have taken to correct this situation.

It was brought to our attention in the fall of 2012 that an employee had a prior felony conviction and had been working for FCPS since 2006. Action was taken immediately to remedy the situation as state law prohibits school divisions from hiring any applicant who has been convicted of a felony. 

Next, FCPS moved quickly to undertake a comprehensive review of all hires between 1996 and 2009; nearly 19,000 employee files were carefully examined. In 2009, FCPS moved to an online application process, which automatically rejects any applicant who discloses he or she has a felony conviction. Prior to the online application process, a paper application process was used.

As a result of our review, six other employees emerged as having prior felony convictions. None of the seven employees were convicted of crimes against children. All of these employees were also hired before 2009. Human error played a part in these hirings and we deeply regret this mistake.

By the spring of 2013, all seven employees were removed from their positions. Four are on administrative leave pending resolution; three have left the school system. 

Normally, personnel matters are not for public discussion. However, this situation is becoming public after a lengthy legal and administrative process involving one of these employees, which is now in the Fairfax County Circuit Court. We are confident the court will affirm our recommendation to dismiss this employee.

Every FCPS employee undergoes a rigorous background check including fingerprinting for a police and FBI record check, and a check against a national child abuse registry. 

FCPS employees, families, and community can be assured that this situation will not occur again because of the rigorous online application process and strong vigilance.

If you have concerns or questions, contact fcpsinfo@fcps.edu."

AileenPaul January 30, 2014 at 11:56 AM
While I realize the hirings are against state law, I can't help but feel that these employees should be judged on the contributions they have made in the last 6 years. One was up for promotion which makes me think she was among the best teachers at her school. She disclosed her past honestly from the beginning. It seems unjust to fire her and the others when the mistake was not their fault to begin with. Is there no chance for a person with a prior conviction to turn his/her life around and contribute to society, even in public education?


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