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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Two school workers placed on leave

Advertiser Staff

The state Department of Education placed two Big Island school employees on paid administrative leave yesterday after published reports disclosed that they are convicted sex offenders.

Whom to call

Anyone who believes a Department of Education employee is a registered sex offender, or has recently been convicted of a crime, should call the principal or vice principal of the school in question, or call the superintendent's hot line at (808) 586-3587, DOE spokeswoman Sandra Goya said.

The state's database, which lists people who have been convicted of sex offenses in Hawai'i, is at sexoffenders.hawaii.gov.

One of the employees was convicted in 1962 of second-degree rape of a minor, according to the state's sex-offender database. The other employee was convicted in 1994 of second-degree sexual assault of an adult, according to the database, which was put on the Internet this month.

"The administrative leave is not disciplinary in nature," DOE spokeswoman Sandra Goya said. "The department is taking these actions to proactively deter any incidents that may disrupt school campus operations and possibly compromise the safety of students and school personnel."

The department was aware that the employees were sex offenders, and had followed the proper review procedures before determining that they should be hired, she said. The DOE is now "reassessing their employment situation," she said.

The DOE is also investigating whether any additional employees are included in the database, Goya said.

On Friday, the DOE sent letters to parents across the state to advise them that the database is available. The letters ask parents to inform the DOE of any school employees who are listed as sex offenders, or who have recent criminal convictions.

The DOE has approximately 60,000 employees. Hawai'i law does not automatically bar anyone convicted of a sex offense from working in schools. But the state may refuse to hire someone after determining that "by reason of the nature and circumstances of the crime that the person poses a risk to the health, safety, or well-being of children," a law pertaining to education employment states.

People who apply for DOE jobs must disclose any criminal convictions, and may request that a review panel decide whether it would be appropriate to hire them, Goya said. If an employee is convicted of a crime after they are hired, their status can be re-evaluated, she said.

The DOE has required since 1992 that applicants submit fingerprints for a nationwide background check through the FBI, Goya said.