[An Urgent Call To Action for Parents is at the end of this post.]
The recent federal criminal indictments of three Bossier Parish School System maintenance employees and two owners of a local air conditioning company, Ark-La-Tex Air Repair, have revealed the deeply disturbing fact that the Bossier Parish School Board has no written policy regarding allowing convicted felons of outside contract companies to walk the halls where our children attend school.
Ark-La-Tex Air Repair was contracted by the School Board to perform numerous installations and repairs at various Bossier Parish Schools over the past four years. Since the indictments, news reports reveal that both owners of Ark-La-Tex Air Repair, Alan Lee and Garrett Wilson are convicted felons.
From the KTBS-TV web site:
Wilson in 1995 was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in the murder of a man who was followed from a Bossier City casino after winning money. The victim was robbed and killed on Interstate 49 in DeSoto Parish after one of his tires was shot out.
Wilson, who implicated two companions in the murder, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder and armed robbery, court records show. He was later released on parole. The other two men are serving life sentences.
Lee served prison in Louisiana for a burglary conviction in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana Department of Corrections records show. They said he was sentenced as a repeat offender because of prior arrests in Texas.
Louisiana Revised Statute Title 15, Section 587E allows employers the ability to check criminal history records on prospective employees, and LRS Title 17, Section 15 provides the same review for employees of public school systems.
Fingerprinting and criminal background checks are in place for direct employees of the Bossier school system.
But there exists NO such written policy and procedure with regard to outside companies hired by the Superintendent or School Board. These outside companies are being allowed to enter our children’s schools to repair air conditioning systems, repair school roofs, install playground equipment, and perform other contract type services, seemingly without even cursory criminal background inquiries.
While no specific blame is being placed upon the elected School Board members, the unelected Superintendent of Schools Ken Kruitoff, and the School Board legal counsel Patrick Jackson, all are part of a SYSTEM that has seriously violated the trust of parents and taxpayers.
A SYSTEM that does not exercise due diligence to insure that convicted felons are not allowed to walk the same halls as our school children is an unacceptable system which foreshadows incidents that should send cold chills down the spine of every parent of a school age child.
While School Board members cannot comment on what is an ongoing criminal investigation, there is absolutely NOTHING that would prevent them from taking IMMEDIATE, direct, decisive action to implement a policy that would address the need for some type of screening of companies desiring to provide services to Bossier Parish Schools.
No one is suggesting that the School Board fingerprint every architect, every contractor, every outside business owner or their employees. Such action would be unwieldy, if not impractical, and virtually impossible. But, there is nothing to prevent the School Board from putting businesses on notice that any company which desires to do business in our schools, must verify that neither they nor their employees have been convicted of felonies.
If you want to see this issue addressed immediately, School Board members need to hear from you. Nothing will change unless School Board members know that the public supports and demands change.
You can find out who your School Board member is at their website HERE. Call them, email them, and please try to attend the next School Board meeting, Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. at the School Board Office in Benton..
Your phone calls, emails, and attendance at this Thursday’s School Board meeting are all very important. The School Board will not act if you remain silent. If they don’t act, nothing changes, and the ramifications are frightening.
In closing, at the last School Board meeting, Board member, Mike Mosura, read a statement to the public from the School Board which included the following remarks:
“We refuse to let the taxpayers dollars not be utilized properly,” board member Mike Mosura said in a statement by the board. “We also refuse to put our children’s future in jeopardy. It’s our charge to restore the public’s confidence.”
This coming Thursday night, the School Board will either prove or disprove their commitment level to these remarks.
See also FBI Press Release