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Texas school blames ‘not always perfect’ background checks for prostitute being allowed to volunteer

A Texas school district is explaining how a convicted prostitute actively advertising as an escort was able to become a committee member and volunteer in the school district, pinning some of the blame on “not always perfect” background checks from the state Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The Godley Independent School District (ISD) issued a statement after reports that Ashley Ketcherside, a district parent convicted of prostitution in 2012 and 2016, had been removed from all committee and volunteer positions within the district.

“A few weeks ago, Superintendent Dr. Rich Dear met with three individuals who are not parents of Godley ISD students. Two of those individuals do not live in Godley. They presented allegations regarding a GISD parent volunteer,” the statement to Fox News Digital read. “At the time, the information received was limited but, although disturbing if true, did not include any criminal conviction or other court judgments.”

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Officials asked the trio for additional information backing the allegations, but the district said they refused during the initial meeting and follow-up inquiries.

Still, the district said it continued to investigate the allegations, which turned up convictions making the parent ineligible to serve as a volunteer in the district.

“Given this conclusive information obtained by the district, we promptly notified the parent that they would no longer be able to serve on district committees or in other volunteer capacities effective immediately,” the statement read.

According to the district, the parent, later identified as Ketcherside, served on district-level committees and the PTO. She did not have contact with students other than her own children during the school day, and her only presence at the school was to have lunch with her kids.

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When parents eat lunch at school with their children, the statement noted, they sit away from other students in the cafeteria.

If anyone, whether a staff member or volunteer, could have possible contact with children, the district requires them to undergo a background check, just like every school district in Texas.

“We rely primarily on the Texas Department of Public Safety for providing background information on these interested citizens,” the statement read. “Those reports are not always perfect.”

The district also said it would not knowingly allow anyone to work on staff or as a volunteer if they have “certain criminal convictions.”

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Texas DPS told Fox News Digital that school districts have access to criminal history for individuals with access to children, and DPS allows the district to review the criminal history information while adjudicating individuals for non-criminal justice purposes like employment, licensing and volunteer work.

Mary Lowe of the nonprofit group Families Engaged for Effective Education commented to FOX 4 on Ketcherside being a convicted prostitute and working on a council that recommends “appropriate grade levels and methods for human sexuality instruction” within the district.

“I don’t see any community wanting that to be the standard for their school district,” she said.

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Lowe said previously that some convictions may not show up in a background check because they are misdemeanors, but according to DPS, misdemeanors are included in computerized criminal history files as reported by local law enforcement agencies.

Districts have the ability to submit name-based searches, though they can be more challenging because common names can render multiple results, DPS said. The best way to get a full background check on an individual, the agency added, is through a fingerprint submission.

While the whistleblowers raised concerns because of Ketcherside’s secret past, they told FOX 4 the issue was more about the lack of oversight, adding that changes can be made at both the local and state levels.

Godley ISD officials agree changes need to be made.

“The district wholeheartedly embraces any improvements in the background check process as well as information received from state agencies in order to determine whether someone should or should not volunteer in our schools,” the district said in its statement.

​U.S. News Today on Fox News

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