Former Oregon teacher disciplined for misconduct hired out of state on day he quit
UPDATED Tuesday with further response from the Beaverton School District and Rapid City Area Schools in South Dakota.
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- KATU discovered a Beaverton middle school teacher who was disciplined for misconduct found a job teaching in another state on the day he resigned in Oregon on Oct. 31, 2016.
The teacher, Paul Mulloy, was not accused of a crime but earlier that year authorities said he communicated inappropriately with 11 female students. Many parents were not told about the case until KATU started asking questions last week.
Officials with Rapid City Area Schools, which hired Mulloy in South Dakota, said they didn't know about his misconduct case in Oregon. KATU learned the case was not reported publicly on the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission's (TSPC) online database of disciplined teachers until November of 2017.
Maureen Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the Beaverton School District, told KATU on Tuesday, "as for an employment background check, we have no knowledge of anyone from Rapid City having contacted BSD."
Synova Nicolaisen, the human resources director for Rapid City Area Schools, said in response to Wheeler Tuesday, "We did check the Oregon State (sic) website before hiring. But in October 2016, he had no flags on his license."
Nicolaisen said her district also ran state and federal criminal background checks on Mulloy but nothing came up.
Jim Bradshaw, a U.S. Education Department spokesman, said he's unaware of any federal database where schools and districts are required to report non-criminal misconduct unless it's a civil rights violation.
A search engine expert told KATU the TSPC's public database of disciplined teachers makes the information tough to Google and hard to find on the site itself. A link to the agency's "educator sanction list" is the 40th one down on the left side of the TSPC's homepage out of a list of nearly 50 links.
Mulloy taught humanities at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton for nearly five years.
In January and August of 2016, parents and education officials said he repeatedly communicated inappropriately with students after they moved on to high school.
"While he might have been mentoring and answering questions and encouraging students, it went beyond his role as a teacher," Wheeler said Friday. “This teacher did not maintain professional boundaries with students.”
The TSPC says Mulloy sent one female high school student more than 150 emails after receiving a formal letter telling him to stop.
Investigators say one email sent at 12:19 a.m. on a Saturday said, "You're smart, beautiful, kind, fun to be around...You will have plenty of success."
The TSPC says he sent other emails to the girl late on school nights. Mulloy was put on paid leave and eventually resigned on Oct. 31, 2016, after the district said it would seek to fire him.
"There was just further concern for not following directives and not being forthright," Wheeler said.
On the day he resigned KATU discovered Rapid City Area Schools (RCAS) hired Mulloy as a substitute.
Nicolaisen, RCAS's HR director, said, "We did not have knowledge of any allegations of misconduct in Oregon when reviewing his application. If we would have, he would not have been employed through the Rapid City Area School District."
The TSPC suspended Mulloy's teaching license for 30 days last year and published the final stipulated order in the case on its website in November.
Trent Danowski, the TSPC's deputy director, said the agency put the action on a national database run by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), which Nicolaisen said Rapid City Area Schools didn't access.
Seth Morrisey, an online marketer in Oregon with more than 10 years of experience, said the TSPC's website needs improvement in large part because discipline reports posted on the site are uploaded as pictures of documents, which makes them tough for search engines to find.
"The information is available but it's not easily accessible," explained Morrisey, the president of Oregon Web Solutions, which he said helps companies become easier to find on search engines. "If they put the information directly on the website or uploaded it as a text PDF then the information would be more easily indexed and Google and people would be able to search and find what they're looking for."
Mulloy quit working at RCAS at the end of the school year in 2017. On Monday, he told a KATU reporter he had no comment on the misconduct case, that he was working at a call center and had no plans to return to education.
Danowski said the law only requires the TSPC to post misconduct information on its website once a final order is issued, which can take several months to more than a year since the commission typically only meets four times annually. He said they reported Mulloy's case to the NADTEC database as an extra step.
Danowski added that he's unaware of any existing legal requirements placed upon school districts to report information on non-criminal misconduct cases to a database or make it available to other schools and districts.
"As TSPC explores revisions to the agency’s website, your feedback will be taken into consideration," Danowski said regarding Morrisey's claims and KATU's observations about the TSPC's online database.