I9: Iowa City Schools waited 10 days to take action against accused drug dealer on staff

Published: May. 16, 2018 at 4:49 PM CDT
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An accused drug dealer had been working as a substitute teacher in the Iowa City School district. That is until the district fired that person last week.

I9 learned Monday that the district fired the substitute after parents alerted them to the criminal past. On Wednesday, the district confirmed a substitute was fired after it learned of a 2011 arrest on drug-related charges. But the district refused to give that person's name or answer other details, insisting we submit a new open records request.

An internal email from Iowa City Schools' Assistant Superintendent Jane Fry let district leaders know of the firing on Friday. Fry's email notes the unnamed substitute "had been arrested and charged with felony marijuana possession with intent to deliver" in an incident "approximately 10 years ago".

The person received a "deferred judgment"... which allows a judge to place someone on probation in lieu of a guilty plea. If that person completes probation, the charge is dismissed and wiped from the record.

Fry's email says the "sub marked "no"' on the application when it asked about past arrests. The letter says the former employee in question still has a district computer. Something Fry called "concerning".

After two days, the district confirmed it learned of the incident on May first after someone pointed out a newspaper article detailing the arrest. But the district has not answered yet why it then waited 10 days to act on the information.

The district says it looks at hiring individuals with criminal records on a case-by-case basis. That is the same procedure the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners told me it uses when issuing teaching licenses, saying it's up the the discretion of its executive director.

The district says a Council Bluffs company called, "Third Degree Screening" conducts background checks for all new hires in the district. But it has not said if the check turned up anything in this case.

i9 did ask Iowa City Superintendent Stephen Murley for an interview. He declined but offered to answer questions in writing. We sent some along but are waiting to hear back.